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Sexual Violence on College Campuses

Students in the United States have the right under federal law (Title IX) to benefit fully from an education that is free from sex discrimination.

The federal government defines sexual harassment, including sexual violence, as a form of sex discrimination. Sexual violence and other forms of sexual harassment can intimidate students, lead to depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, dropping classes, not performing well academically, or feeling the need to transfer or even drop out of school and not complete their studies.

Students and their parents and supporters should learn their rights under Title IX (for links, see below). Every college and university has a grievance procedure for those who have experienced harassment, including violence, which should be outlined on the school's website or printed literature. Students who have followed all the proper steps of a school's procedure and feel that the school has not abided by the federal guidelines on Title IX may consult the school's Title IX Officer (whose name and contact information must be listed on the school's website or printed literature). If that fails, students may file a Title IX complaint with the Office of Civil Rights (for examples of OCR responses to such complaints, see below).

Beyond this, all schools are required to make their crime statistics and security policies public under The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. This includes forcible and non-forcible sexual offenses.

To learn more, read the federal guidelines (as articulated in 2011 and 2006) and examples of federal responses to Title IX complaints concerning sexual violence and harassment.


Many rape crisis centers, women's centers, LGBTIQ centers, and campus chaplaincies will assist female, male, transgender, and gender-non-conforming victims. 

Research on sexual violence among differing groups of college students is urgently needed. Read about a pilot study of sexual assault against LGBTIQ students and alumni/ae from Boston-area colleges and universities.