Today, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the Department of Education would roll back Obama era guidelines to protect victims and survivors of on-campus sexual assault by applying Title IX to on-campus investigations into sexual assault and harassment complaints.
Studies have long confirmed an epidemic of on-campus sexual assault and harassment — one that has been largely overlooked by school administration. An on-campus study conducted by Duke University revealed that an alarming 40% of female undergraduates had experienced sexual assault, as had 10% of male undergraduates. Similarly high rates of sexual assault were found at Yale (38.8% of female undergraduates) as well as in a combined study of 27 universities (23% of female undergraduates). At Cornell, 13% of female undergraduates reported experiencing nonconsensual sexual penetration, one of many forms of sexual assault. These data are highly disturbing: they suggest that a female undergraduate student is 5.5 times more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than the average resident of most major US cities. Furthermore, sexual assault is a highly gendered crime: on-average, female undergraduate students are four to five times more likely to be sexually assaulted than male students.
The issue of on-campus sexual assault is of particular relevance to Asian American women and other women of colour. At Duke, white female undergraduates are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted compared to white male undergraduates; but for Asian American female undergraduate students, the gender disparity in sexual assault rises to more than six times more likely to be assaulted, and Black or Hispanic female undergraduates are at even greater risk of sexual assault. In the larger study of 27 universities, Asian American female students were 4.5 times more likely to have experienced nonconsensual sexual penetration compared to Asian American male students. For Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students, female students were 5.5 times more likely to be assaulted than male students. These gender disparities were higher for Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students than for Black or White undergraduates.