Schools must address the financial costs of sexual violence

PotX5Wi81BF-RItaA_H8c5wVH-Xtd0knUB-vYi8B7g0Sexual violence costs. And under civil rights law, colleges and universities are obligated to address it.

Title IX — the 1972 law that mandates schools remove gender-based barriers to education — requires colleges and universities to address the financial barriers to educational access that violence creates.

That means that if you’re a survivor of sexual violence (including rape, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, gender-based cyber-bullying, and sexual harassment), you have rights (regardless of your gender). Your university should both provide you with certain accommodations, like counseling or academic support, and make sure you don’t have to pay the financial costs of those accommodations.

The services your school needs to provide and pay for depend on the particular circumstances of your situation and what kind of support you need in order to learn, but here are some things your college might be required to do in order to support you:

  • provide counseling and medical services
  • provide tutoring and other academic support services
  • provide disability services, including for students who develop mental health-related disabilities as a result of violence
  • provide an escort so that you can move safely and comfortably between classes, campus jobs, sports, and other extracurricular activities
  • move you or your perpetrator out of a shared class and/or dorm or, if you’re an elementary or secondary school student, to another school within the district
  • allow you to retake a course or withdraw from a class without academic or financial penalty, and make sure that any changes do not adversely affect your academic record

Finally, you shouldn’t have to pay the costs of your school’s mistakes. So, if your college refused to remove your perpetrator from your dorm — forcing you to take time off from school as a result — your school might be required to reimburse your lost tuition or allow you to retake classes free of charge.

If you believe your school violated your rights, you can file a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, the agency tasked with enforcing Title IX. You don’t need a lawyer to file but there are some awesome pro bono Title IX attorneys out there — find one here.

And remember: the rights above are all of a piece with your other Title IX rights, which you can learn more about here and here and here and here.

Note: This post does not constitute legal advice. You can find a lawyer here.

Header image credit: Know Your IX.

New Haven, CT

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and the co-founder of Know Your IX, the national youth-led organization working to end gender violence in schools. She's testified before Congress on Title IX policy and legislative reform, and her writing has appeared in a number of outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. She's also a student at Yale Law School, and you can find her on Twitter at @danabolger.

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and a student at Yale Law School.

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