FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Students Active For Ending Rape Launches Sexual Assault Policies Database
September 29, 2008--Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER) is excited to announce the launch of the College Sexual Assault Policies Database. This online database archives sexual assault policies from colleges and universities across the nation. Developed in response to student requests for examples of thorough and effective campus sexual assault policies, the database will give students access to policies from a diverse array of American universities. The database, funded in part by a grant from the American Association of University Women, can be found by visiting SAFER’s website: http://www.safercampus.org/policies.php.
The policies are evaluated based upon how well they fulfill a number of criteria for sound and effective sexual assault programs and practices that have been identified by SAFER. Many policies have also been evaluated to determine whether they are in compliance with all relevant federal legislation relating to sexual assault. Students will be able to search the database to make sure their school fulfills all of the criteria. The database also allows students to comment on the application of the policies at their school, revealing any differences between what appears in school policy and what is actually implemented by the university.
SAFER acknowledges that every campus community is unique, and there is not one model assault policy that will work for every school. However, there are basic guidelines for strong policies: all students should have access to the policy; the policy should be easy to understand; policies should be created with student input and formal oversight; and all policies should include mandatory prevention education for all students, crisis intervention, and long-term counseling. Additional markers of a strong school sexual assault policy include a fill-time staff person dedicated to the issue and the on-campus availability of contraception and STD prophylaxis.
“The policies in the database have turned out to be a very mixed bag,” said Margaret Mikkelsen, director of SAFER. Some schools feature innovative programs, like the
University of New Hampshire’s bystander intervention training. Lehigh University and Columbia University are among the schools that offer online reporting forms. Other schools' policies “don't seem to acknowledge the extent or severity of the problem,” said Mikkelsen, with vague definitions of sexual assault, convoluted reporting procedures, and no discussion of consent.
The Policies Database is an important tool in SAFER’s larger effort to educate and train student activists who want to challenge and reform their university’s sexual assault policies. Currently SAFER offers student organizers a thorough manual on how to create change, a campus activist mentoring program, and organizing workshops for student groups. The Policies Database will further arm students with examples of how to revise policy and provide activists with strong points of comparison when approaching their university administration for change on campus.
Sexual violence remains a major issue on college campuses. Up to 25% of college women will be victims of sexual assault while they are enrolled in school, with an estimated 3% of college women raped each year. Campus sexual assault goes largely unreported—especially by male victims—due to uncertainty among students as to what constitutes rape and a lack of available resources for rape survivors. SAFER began in 1999 at Columbia University when a group of students organized a successful grassroots campaign to improve the school’s response to campus sexual violence. The group expanded across the country as other students expressed a desire to create similar movements on their campuses. To this day, SAFER is primarily run by students, graduate students, and recent graduates.
If you would like to learn more about SAFER, add your campus to the Policies Database, or find out more about organizing a SAFER event at your school, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. All media inquiries should be directed to: email@example.com or 347-293-0953.