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Serving Victims on Campus

Judicial Protocols, Policies, and Training

According to the California Campus Sexual Assault Task Force43

Campus judicial systems operate independently from state and federal criminal justice systems. Typically, their sanctions apply a lesser burden of proof than required by either state or federal criminal systems, and these sanctions do not restrict basic liberties. As a result, a campus may decide to pursue an allegation of sexual assault that the criminal justice system might dismiss.

Individual victims may choose not to report to municipal or campus law enforcement/security and instead pursue a remedy only through the campus judicial system. For these reasons, a campus judicial system's response to a sexual assault complaint may be a victim's only avenue for seeking justice. Therefore, campuses must actively work to ensure that their judicial systems are fair, unbiased, and responsive to the needs and rights of both victims and those accused of sexual assault.

Consider taking the following actions:

  • Develop adjudication guidelines about victims' rights, safety concerns, and fears of participating in the campus judicial process; use specific guidelines rather than vaguely worded "zero tolerance" statements.44
  • Develop and publicize a campus sexual assault victims' bill of rights for adjudicating complaints of sexual misconduct.45 (See, e.g., New Jersey's Campus Sexual Assault Victim's Bill of Rights.)
  • Publicize sanctions for acts of sexual assault in student and faculty handbooks and adhere to standardized sanctions for specific offenses to ensure that judicial decisions are equitable for all students.46
  • Incorporate the following elements into your judicial protocols, policies, and training practices, which are adapted from the California Campus Blueprint to Address Sexual Assault:47
    • Establish sexual assault as a specific violation of the campus code of conduct.
    • Never require mediation as a means of resolution for a complaint of sexual misconduct.
    • Enable campus administrators to grant immunity from lesser violations of the code of conduct (e.g., alcohol consumption) for violations that occurred in relation to the sexual assault.
    • Allow both the victim and the accused to end an informal hearing process at any time in favor of a formal hearing.
    • Prohibit the presentation of irrelevant information about the victim's prior sexual activity, including consensual sexual history between the victim and the accused.
    • Allow victims to make victim impact statements and affirm the value of victim input.
    • Establish victims' right to appeal if a complaint is deemed unworthy of a hearing.
    • Provide for conflicts of interest.
New Jersey's Campus Sexual Assault Victim's Bill of Rights Act

According to New Jersey's Campus Sexual Assault Victim's Bill of Rights (New Jersey Statutes Title 18A: 61E-2, 1994), every institution of higher education in the state must uphold the following sexual assault victims' rights, which are associated with assaults that occur on or off campus:

  • To have any allegations of sexual assault treated seriously.
  • To be treated with dignity.
  • To be free from any suggestion that the victims are responsible.
  • To be notified of existing campus- and community-based medical, counseling, mental health, and student services for victims, whether or not the crime is formally reported to the campus or civil authorities.
  • To have access to campus counseling.
  • To be informed of and assisted in exercising any rights to confidential or anonymous testing for sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, and pregnancy; and any rights that may be provided by law to compel and disclose if the accused have communicable diseases.
  • To be afforded the same access to legal assistance as the accused.
  • To be afforded the same opportunity to have others present during any campus disciplinary proceedings.
  • To be notified of the outcome of the sexual assault disciplinary proceeding against the accused.
  • To receive cooperation and assistance from campus personnel in notifying the proper authorities.
  • To receive prompt, victim-sensitive cooperation from campus personnel in securing and maintaining evidence, including a medical forensic examination when it is necessary to preserve evidence of the assault.

Furthermore, sexual assault victims are to be free from any pressure from campus personnel to report sexual assaults if they do not want to do so or free from pressure to report crimes as lesser offenses. The Act also requires campus personnel to take reasonable and necessary actions to prevent alleged assailants from have any further unwanted contact with victims and to be notified of the options for and provided assistance in changing academic and living situations if such changes are reasonably available.