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Responding to Sexual Assault on Campus

A National Assessment and Systematic Classification of the Scope and Challenges for Investigation and Adjudication

Principal Investigators: Linda Williams, Ph.D. and April Pattavina, Ph.D.
Co-Investigators: Alison Cares, Ph.D. and Nan Stein, Ed.D.

Funder: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice

This is a project of the Justice and Gender-Based Violence Research Initiative of the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College.

Project Overview:

This project responds to the unprecedented recent attention paid to how colleges handle campus sexual assault. It provides a systematic overview of how colleges are approaching the investigation and adjudication of incidents.

The first phase examines the websites of 969 four-year accredited institutions to evaluate the public promulgation of their policies and procedures related to reports of sexual assault.  The second phase is interviews with 100 key campus stakeholders with knowledge of their institution’s policies and procedures in action. The interviews are designed to identify what colleges see as successful approaches as well as current barriers to effective investigation and adjudication of sexual assault.

Results will be used to create tools that can help institutions develop and revise procedures for a workable, fair, and equitable process that fits their campus needs. Resources for college sexual assault investigation and adjudication may include: a policy checklist (guided by federal legal requirements), guidance for conducting a website self-evaluation to gauge clarity and comprehensiveness, and a digest of investigation and adjudication approaches including highlights of the strengths and complexities of each approach.

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This project is supported by Award No.2015-IJ-CX-0009, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.

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