TRENTON, N.J. — Colleges need to gather data about sexual violence at their schools, set up clear reporting procedures and establish investigation models if they are to address high rates of on-campus assaults, a New Jersey task force said in a Monday report.
Republican Gov. Chris Christie and the state Legislature formed the Task Force on Campus Sexual Assault, which recommended universities survey their students and create plans to better respond to assault allegations.
Federal statistics show that roughly one-in-five women experience some form of sexual assault while in college.
“The first step to keeping our campus communities safe is to find out what is actually going on,” said Sarah McMahon, a task force member and an associate director of Rutgers University’s Center on Violence Against Women and Children.
The task force said colleges should make clear to students how they can confidentially report sexual assaults and should inform them of available counseling services. Colleges also should tell students, both the accusers and the accused, about their legal rights and options.
“We all want reports of sexual violence to be taken seriously, and as such, we encourage campuses to ensure that all students understand what happens after sexual violence is reported,” said lawyer Anne Marie Bramnick, who also is a task force member.