Sexual assault cases must be public domain

Last June, Carnegie Mellon’s chapter of Beta Theta Pi came under fire for several allegations of sexual misconduct on campus. The fraternity was suspended in the midst of these allegations of filming and distributing sexually explicit videos.

The suspension was followed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)’s formal complaint against the university for violating the federal Clery Act of 1990, according to the Huffington Post. Under Title IX, with its intent of achieving gender equity, colleges receiving federal funding are required to respond to matters of sexual misconduct and to have preventative measures in place to prevent such matters.

Our university is not an anomaly. According to Tyler Kingkade, who has spent more than a year reporting for The Huffington Post on sexual assault cases on college campuses, the U.S. Department of Education received 30 complaints pertaining to the mishandling of sexual violence cases in the university setting in the 2013 fiscal year. This is a marked increase from 2012, when the department received only 17 complaints.

On one hand, an increase in sexual assault reports is upsetting because it proves the prevalence of the crime on college campuses nationally.

However, Kingkade points out in an email that “just because a number is high doesn’t mean there are more sexual assaults at a school. It’s likely the opposite; that a high number means more women feel comfortable reporting.”

The number of sexual assault reports in the college setting will only continue to increase as people feel more comfortable making them, which should be seen as a good thing. Through his experience, Kingkade compiled an infographic that pinpoints those schools accused of mishandling sexual assault cases — information he gathered by “remaining connected with victims and constantly bugging the Education Department to stay on top of it.”

However, there exists no official report of exactly which schools were accused; the only people who know for certain are “a handful of attorneys and their staff” in the Department of Education”, according to the infographic.

This information should be public knowledge, and the Department of Education should release a formal report on the accused schools.

While one could argue that an accusation doesn’t necessarily mean that a sexual assault occurred at that school, the likelihood is high, since sexual assault cases are severely underreported, according to USA Today.

Hopefully, as society grows more open and people feel more comfortable reporting it, sexual assault will cease to be an underreported crime.