Arizona will revamp the way its three state universities respond to sexual assault and harassment claims as part of a settlement over a rape case at Arizona State University in Tempe.
The alleged victim in the March 2004 case and her family now will help set up and advise the new statewide Office of Student Safety Coordinator.
The office will produce an annual report for the next five years, documenting the universities' response to student and staff complaints about sexual discrimination, harassment and violence.
It is great that action is being taken, but it is terrible that it took a lawsuit for these actions to be taken. The woman who filed this lawsuit reported that Arizona State University football player Darnel Henderson raped her. The university process concluded that "nonconsensual sexual intercourse" happened (what a pathetic and dismissive way to describe the conclusion that this man committed rape) but no criminal charges were filed against him.
In late 2007 I blogged about the Arizona State University police's dismissive response to several reports of rape which reportedly happened inside fraternities. At that time in the previous 7 years there had been zero rape convictions resulting from the reports of rape made by ASU students. Not surprisingly one of the fraternities released a statement that incorrectly claimed that a lack of criminal charges meant that the fraternity had been vindicated.
The leadership of all universities and colleges must begin viewing the crime of rape as a serious crime which they cannot afford to ignore or minimize. If they don't view rape as serious because of the nature of the crime itself they need to view it as serious because of liability issues.
If college students considering rape know that they will be competently investigated and criminally prosecuted they might decide that rape isn't worth the risk. But as long as most rapists get away with rape on a specific college campus that campus is supportive of rapists and hostile to rape victims.