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21-Apr-2019 11:39

So how do you know if your school has good sexual assault policies?talked to leading experts on campus sexual assault about what a comprehensive policy looks like, red flags to watch out for, and what you can do to improve the policies on your own campus.1. If a school is truly dedicated to preventing sexual assault, holding perpetrators accountable, and supporting survivors, the proof will be on their website and in the student handbook.They should also be able to tell you more about victims' advocates — a person to informally represent a survivor in a disciplinary process — and tell you whether they'll allow you to have an advocate from a local organization or a lawyer present with you to help defend your rights.The judicial process should be clear and easily available online.But different schools have different standards when it comes to what evidence they need to take action against an alleged perpetrator.The criminal justice system uses a "guilt beyond a reasonable doubt" standard — this evidentiary standard is a high one because the punishment for committing a crime is often loss of liberty at the hands of the state.And if anonymous reports include names of alleged assailants, schools can collect information on perpetrators as well — most sexual assailants commit their crimes repeatedly against many victims, and if a school allows anonymous reporting, it can identify patterns and serial offenders. "Make sure there's transparency about how it works and that there are advocates available for victims who want to press charges.You also want to look at outcomes: How many cases have been brought, and how many of those people were found responsible?

We need to honor the choices of survivors."Anonymous reporting allows survivors to get the help they need and enables schools to gather statistics on campus sexual assault without forcing victims, who may already feel a loss of control over their own bodies, to feel further disempowered. "Make sure it's easy to find out what the judicial process is," Friedman says.

Schools don't have the power to incarcerate but they still have an obligation to protect the rest of their students, so they use a variety of other standards.

Some rely on a "preponderance of the evidence" standard, which is also used in civil cases and essentially means that the evidence must indicate that an accused student is more likely guilty than not before he or she will face disciplinary measures.

"Schools should be using the 'preponderance of the evidence' standard and not the 'clear and convincing' standard," Brodsky says.

"The preponderance standard really means putting the survivor and the accused students on an equal playing field, which is not what the criminal justice system does for good reason."Under the preponderance of the evidence standard, a disciplinary panel in theory only needs more than 50 percent of the evidence to point to a party's responsibility in order to hold them accountable.And they should have a model of "affirmative consent," or "yes means yes" — that is, both parties have to affirmatively want to have sex and must express that desire, rather defining consent as not saying no."A school that has adopted an affirmative consent standard is more likely to understand that sex should be an act of joy for everyone involved and that all of their students are sexual agents," says Alexandra Brodsky, co-founder and director of Know Your IX, an organization that combats sexual assault and educates students on their rights under Title IX.