Sexual assault and misconduct on campus

Young adults attend college with the hope of creating a better future for themselves and for their families. It is a time of opportunity, but it is also a time of significant risk. Namely, it is the first time that many students experience such a high degree of personal freedom. 

Sometimes, young people do not have the discretion necessary to avoid situations that could end up with them standing accused of a crime. However, it is important to understand that reported crimes and convictions are two very different metrics. 

Criminal reports are the beginning of a process. It continues via a complex system of legal and institutional procedures. Even the federal government may have an influence on college crime investigations. 

As reported by The Washington Post, the Department of Education has some power in determining guidelines on some sexual crimes, such as sexual misconduct. Those in positions of authority, such as faculty, staff or graduate students, could find themselves answering to allegations of these crimes as well as those more squarely under the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania courts. 

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, forcible sexual assault is one of the fastest rising reported crimes. In fact, in 2016, this category accounted for over 30% of all reports. This, combined with policy changes, could indicate the necessity for a careful, measured approach to any type of criminal accusation of this type. 

There could be some good news as well. The NCES reports that nearly every category of crime has a lower frequency of reporting than at the beginning of the century. Whether this indicates safer campuses, a more lawful student body or some other cause, it is likely a positive sign for college culture.