The number of “forcible rapes” reported at four-year colleges increased 49 percent between 2008 and 2012, reports NPR. The rise shows that sexual assault is a persistent and ugly problem on college campuses. It means more students are willing to come forward and report this underreported crime. “It’s a good thing that more victims are reporting because they’re getting the help and support they need from their institutions,” says Daniel Carter, a veteran advocate for better campus safety laws. For far too long, they’ve been left on their own. And now they’re getting the help they need, which is the first step in healing and recovery and ultimately … finishing their education as wholly as possible.” Carter is the director of a group called 32 National Campus Safety Initiative. He says there’s still a long way for schools to go. This week, the White House told colleges and universities to take more action to prevent sexual assaults.
Among the schools advocates point to as being models is the University of Michigan, That school, which gives a series of training sessions to first-year students on preventing sexual assault, has had its own controversy. In February, a small group of students protested the way the university handled sexual misconduct allegations against a player on the football team. In 2009, a first-year student said Brendan Gibbons raped her at a fraternity party. The case was dropped. Last August, the school adopted a new policy based on guidelines issued by the Department of Education in 2011, which gave the school more leeway to conduct an investigation. A retired professor filed a new complaint over the Gibbons investigation, and the case was reopened. In December, before Michigan went to a bowl game, Gibbons was expelled.