The Department of Education announced this weekend that it will be fining Washington State University $82,500 for failing to address two campus sexual assaults in 2007, as well as due to their lack of campus safety policies:
The university’s three violations of the main federal law on campus-crime reporting, the Clery Act, endangered Washington State students and employees who rely on campus-crime statistics and statements, a federal education official wrote in a letter to the college’s president, Elson S. Floyd.
[...] In one case at Washington State, the letter said, a woman told a campus police official that she had been raped by her husband’s friend. The incident was classified as a “domestics dispute” instead of a forcible sex offense, a mistake that the university later acknowledged, the letter said.
In a second incident, an employee reported a dormitory rape to the campus police that was omitted from campus reports because a records manager decided the case was unfounded. Under the Clery Act, only a law-enforcement official should make such a determination, the letter said.
Washington State also failed to make public certain policies, such as how it prepared crime statistics or imposed sanctions for sex offenses. The college has since corrected its policies, but the 2007 violations remained, the letter said.
While this is just one school (not to mention a monetary fine isn’t exactly a perfect vision of justice), this is still a really important step. It’s part of a larger decision that was made by the Department of Education to review dozens of colleges to ensure they are complying with the Clery Act, which came after a ton of recent reports on the sexual assault epidemic on college campuses — and more importantly, the subsequent lack of action taken by schools to address them.
There’s a reason why 95% of sexual assaults on campus aren’t reported. Let’s hope schools continue to be held accountable, and start taking the idea of campus safety policies seriously.