Dream Schools Can Be a Nightmare—But a New Data Tool Empowers Student Survivors

The Campus Accountability Map and Tool, or CAMT, gives students access to the sum of a higher ed institution’s parts and creates a pathway toward an education free from violence. 

USC sophomores Claire Smerdon and Charlie Littleworth tape notes to the Sigma Nu fraternity house on Oct. 22, 2021, where at least two women were drugged and sexually assaulted. Among undergraduate students, 26.4 percent of women students and 6.8 percent of men experience rape or sexual assault. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Over the years, I’ve spoken to countless student survivors who have disclosed their experiences of campus sexual assault. Most recall wishing they had access to information about campus sexual assault before deciding which college to attend.  

Rachel, a current law student and survivor, recollects not having the ability to readily access information about her undergraduate school’s policies on sexual assault or survivor support resources needed to help her navigate through the rest of her college experience. 

When prospective and current college students like Rachel envision their “dream school,” they are usually thinking about top-rated programs, imagining what their life will be like as a student on campus and considering the cost of tuition. Most are not considering which campus has the best approach to handling sexual assault. They shouldn’t have to.

But, the unfortunate reality is that 26 percent of undergraduate women, more than 6 percent of men and 23 percent of trans and gender-nonconforming students will experience sexual assault in their time on campus. These rates are even higher for students of color, students with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ and undocumented and immigrant students.

Up to this point, information on campus sexual assault statistics, how to report and survivor support resources are scattered and detached across various federal databases and university websites. After experiencing sexual assault, this sporadic information makes it difficult for students to know what resources are available and their options. 

At End Rape On Campus, we know that to fight for change effectively, we must listen to students and survivors nationwide and provide them with critical information on how campuses handle sexual assault. We built the Campus Accountability Map and Tool (CAMT) to do just that. With over 750 colleges and universities nationwide, students and advocates can compare sexual assault investigation policies, high-level statistics, prevention efforts and available survivor support resources between schools through a user-friendly interface.

Students no longer have to search layers of web pages for investigation policies and procedures. Parents no longer have to wonder about how their child’s school handles sexual assault and who their Title IX coordinator may be. By increasing transparency, the CAMT empowers students and advocates to hold and demand that their schools take accountability and be proactive in prevention and survivor support efforts for survivors. 

The Campus Accountability Map and Tool, or CAMT. (End Rape on Campus)

The CAMT helps compare Georgia State University (GSU) and the University of Georgia (UGA), two similarly located and sized public institutions. With respect to investigation policies, both schools have a fact-finding process separate from the adjudication process, an amnesty policy and an appeals process. However, GSU has a panel of people charged with finding responsibility, and UGA has a single-investigator model. 

Looking at the numerical statistics, GSU has 20 reported rapes, 46 reported incidents of dating violence and 24 reported incidents of stalking. UGA has 29, nine and 15 respectively. While these numbers may seem alarming, this information may also signal that these schools are making a concerted effort to make their campuses safe places to report. At the same time, we must recognize that institutions sometimes underreport, and some investigations are incomplete or inconclusive.

There is no “one size fits all” approach to addressing campus sexual assault, but the CAMT centralizes data to shift focus to one that keeps students first in mind and an institution’s bottom line and reputation last. 

CAMT allows prospective students to consider campus safety measures while picking their dream school.

Built by survivors and advocates for survivors, advocates and prospective students, we hope the CAMT helps revolutionize conversations and considerations for selecting a dream school. Having a complete picture of how safety is prioritized helps to make informed decisions. We built a tool that will give students access to the sum of a higher ed institution’s parts and create a pathway toward an education free from violence. 

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Kenyora Parham, MSW, is the executive director of End Rape On Campus (EROC), which works to end campus sexual violence through direct support for survivors, prevention through education; and policy reform. You can find EROC on Instagram and Twitter.