The series began today on Morning Edition with an introduction from Shapiro, and continues tomorrow and Friday on All Things Considered, which will broadcast a two-part report by Shapiro on the story of one victim’s struggle for justice. Next week, NPR’s midday call-in program Talk of the Nation will devote an hour to address sexual assault on campus, and on Tell Me More, host Michel Martin plans to examine the issue from the viewpoint of school administrators dealing with assault cases. All reports in the series will be available at NPR.org, along with reporting and resource information from the Center for Public Integrity. For local stations and broadcast times for NPR programs, please visit www.npr.org/stations
Through interviews with victims of sexual assault and their families, and research from the Center for Public Integrity investigation, Shapiro reports of systemic problems with the campus policing system, and with the government’s oversight of campus safety. The U.S. Department of Education regulates campuses under the Jeanne Clery Act, which forces schools to disclose all crime that happens on campus. But Shapiro reports that when victims of assault on campus turn to the Department for help, which very few students know to do, it rarely acts. Between 1998 and 2008, the Department ruled against just five universities out of 24 complaints, and there was no punishment in those cases, simply guidance on how to improve campus procedures.
Presented with these findings, Russlynn Ali, the assistant secretary for civil rights, says her office is stepping up outreach to students, so they know their rights, and to schools, so they know their responsibilities. Ali tells NPR: “We want them to get training, we want to provide some help so that the adults and the students alike can ensure that this plague – it's really has become a plague in this country – begins to diminish.”
The NPR/CPI investigation found that colleges almost never expel men who are found responsible for sexual assault. Reporters at the Center for Public Integrity discovered a database of about 130 colleges and universities that received federal grants because they wanted to do a better job dealing with sexual assault. It shows that even when men at those schools were found responsible for sexual assault, only 10 to 25 percent of them were expelled.