Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $555,677)
Given the considerable changes in the federal legislation and the pressing requirements that colleges develop policies and practices that meet the needs of victims and of those accused of sexual assault, there is a critical need to document and understand how colleges are handling these demands and coordinating campus approaches to investigation and adjudication of sexual assaults. Moreover, it is necessary to examine if variation in investigative policies and practices are associated with intended outcomes for victims and are consistent with emerging best practices. This proposed project is designed to identify the range and scope of policies and practices related to the investigation and adjudication of sexual assaults on college campuses in the U.S. The Wellesley Centers for Women along with expert panel of advisory board members will document and classify the current landscape (the breadth and differences) of campus approaches to investigations and adjudication of sexual assault and, informed by a victim centered focus, develop a clear understanding of the challenges and successes of these policies. The principal investigators and senior staff have many decades of experience conducting research and contributing to policies on sexual assault. Advisory group members including student advocates and survivors of sexual assault, university leaders in student life and those responsible for investigations and counseling will help guide our planned data collection protocols and assist in developing the typologies of responses and guides for schools on emerging best practices.
Based on data gathered from a national sample of 1000 colleges and universities in conjunction with interviews with key informants in 100 universities, this project will provide a context for understanding individual college or university approaches and programs and increase the opportunity for assessment of how a variety of approaches may be appropriately generalized or applied to other institutions, be they peer institutions or other colleges or universities utilizing similar approaches across the US. The project will create accessible resources for those on college campuses regarding promising practices to handle sexual assault incidents in a fair and equitable manner that is also victim-centered and easily accessible and understandable to students. Others concerned about sexual assault on campus will learn about promising practices which will inform their work as advocates, policy makers, regulators, researchers, and practitioners.
Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.