The government has recently responded to the problem of sexual assault and violence on college campuses with several statements, as well as recommendations to colleges for handling the issue. In an effort to be more transparent, Ed.Gov has also published a list of 55 colleges currently under investigation for violation of Title IX. (Note that just because a school is under investigation does not mean they are guilty.) The issue of campus safety is a thorny one. Although Title IX requires schools that receive federal funding to take steps to prevent sexual assault on campus, and to respond when an assault is reported, schools often do not do a good job of this. College administrators are ill-equipped to respond to reports and hold effective investigations. In addition, colleges may under-report incidents of sexual assaults, as it can be less damaging to pay a fine than to go public with the report.
One of the recommendations from the White House is for colleges to conduct a campus climate survey intended to reveal the prevalence of assault and the attitudes of students on the issue. Colleges have a chance to voluntarily complete the survey next year. We look forward to seeing which colleges are proactive with this and what the results of the survey may be.
For those concerned about this issue in the present, there is data on crime publicized and available to students which we have collected on our website in an easily digestible way. For any college you are researching, go to the Crime tab under the Student Life section to view statistics on crime and violence on campus and in the surrounding areas.
The data included on the page includes various types of criminal acts, not just sexual assault. While the information is not perfect (one problem is there is no way to measure crime that is not reported), it is a good first step to better understand the safety of a particular school.