Sexual Assault Cases & How the University Handles Them

Sara Spillman's picture

Hi everyone, 

I came across this article titled, "UM Students Hold Vigil for Sexual Assault Survivors: 'we must demand UMich do better,'" which speaks on how sexual assault is an increasingly large problem at the university and impacts many. The articles states, "The collection represented approximately 5,000 victims of sexual assault at UM. A 2019 campus climate survey conducted by UM indicated that 12.5% of students --more than 5,000 -- reported experiencing non-consensual sexual contact since enrolling." This is a relatively significant portion of the student population. 

A large issue that was brought to my attention through this article was University of Michigan's sexual misconduct policy. The policy allows accused parties to question their accusers directly, and not through an advisor or attorney. My understanding is that this portion of the policy would make victims of sexual assault afraid to come forward and potentially face their assailant, and cause them to stay silent and allow their attacker freedom they do not deserve to potentially assault more individuals.

The article notes that students have taken action and contacted administration to which they responded by informing people that these hearings that have occurred in the past have all had the parties in separate rooms and that changes have been made since to better this portion of the policy for the accuser. Regardless, it is clear that not many people are aware of the actual intricacies of the policy, which is an issue on its own. 

The information that the article provides begs the question: What can the university specifically be doing to not only handle sexual assault cases better and allow the victims to be heard, but prevent more from occurring in the future?