NEWSFLASH: Campus Sexual Assault Complaints Are on the Rise

Reports of sexual violence on college campuses are on the rise, according to new data compiled by the Department of Education.

In a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) released by her office Tuesday, the Department’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), which oversees the enforcement of Title IX, details a surge in Title IX-related sexual assault complaints, from nine in 2009 to 102 in 2014. Additionally, The Clery Act-mandated annual campus crime statistics report a near doubling of “forcible sexual offenses,” from 3,264 complaints in 2009 to 6,016 in 2013. The OCR found the typical duration of campus sexual assault investigations jumped as well, from 379 days in 2009 to 1,469 days in 2014, a growth the OCR attributes to the “substantial increase” in sexual violence complaints.

As dispiriting as the numbers may be, the OCR remains optimistic, suggesting the data indicate an increased awareness of sexual assault nationwide. The organization also pointed to its participation in programs such as the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault and as evidence of its commitment to resolving the campus rape crisis, but say it needs more money from Congress to continue.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who with Boxer pushed the Department of Education to bring greater transparency to their efforts to combat sexual assault on college campuses, insists more can be done. “These figures still don’t reflect even conservative estimates of the actual incidence of sexual assault and rape on campuses, and still the Department of Education lacks the resources to promptly investigate the few complaints against schools that are filed,” says Gillibrand.

“This data is the latest example of why we need to flip the incentives so that schools properly address the problem of sexual assault on their campuses, and make sure the Department of Education has the funding it needs to enforce the laws, review complaints and help prevent campus sexual assault.”

Photo courtesy of Women’s eNews licensed under Creative Commons


Kitty Lindsay is a Ms. blogger and works at the Feminist Majority Foundation. She is also creator and host of Feminist Crush, a weekly podcast featuring conversations with feminist artists and activists. Follow her on Twitter!