There are huge failings in how colleges and universities across America are dealing with sexual assault, according to a survey commissioned by Sen. Claire McCaskill. She says the most shocking figure is that 41% of schools haven't investigated a single alleged sexual assault in the last five years as required by federal law, even though a recent study found up to a fifth of undergraduate women are the victims of attempted or completed sexual violence during their time in college, the St. Louis Dispatch reports. "That means they are either in denial or they are incompetent, because there is no way that at 41% of our campuses there were no sexual assaults over the past five years," she said after the report was released yesterday. Others are only investigating a fraction of the assaults they report to the Education Department—as few as one in seven in some cases.
The survey of more than 300 colleges and universities also found some major conflict-of-interest issues, reports the Daily Beast. McCaskill said it was "borderline outrageous" that 22% of institutions gave the athletics department oversight of sexual assault cases involving athletes. "It is hard enough to get a victim to come forward when there is at least a perception that the process is going to be fair," she said. "On some campuses, the athletic departments are the most important entities that exist." Only around half of colleges and universities have a hotline victims can call to report sexual assault, the survey found, and only 16% of schools have carried out "climate surveys" to determine the prevalence of sexual assault on campus. McCaskill says the findings will be used in her work on a bipartisan effort to craft campus sexual assault legislation, Politico reports.