Few Students Know Their School's Definition of Sexual Misconduct

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Oct 30, 2019 | 0 Comments

A disturbingly low percentage of students at Ivy League schools say they are confident that they understand their school's definition of sexual misconduct. The lack of understanding means that lots of students go through their college lives without knowing what they can and can't do. This makes Title IX allegations even more problematic, as students can break their school's code of conduct without knowing it.

Surveys Suggest Most Students Don't Understand What Sexual Misconduct Is

According to a report by the student newspaper at Harvard University, The Harvard Crimson, a recent student survey conducted by the American Association of Universities (AAU) found that fewer than half of students could be counted on to know their school's definition of sexual misconduct.

The survey asked students across the country about their level of confidence in their understanding of their college's definition of sexual misconduct. The survey found that only around 1 in 3 students claimed they were “very knowledgeable” or “extremely knowledgeable” about their campus' definition. The newspaper article focused on how well Ivy League schools scored on the responses, with the following results:

  • Yale University: 40 percent
  • Harvard University: 34 percent
  • Brown University: 29 percent

Numbers are Higher, But Still Very Low

Title IX experts are patting themselves on the back for raising the awareness of many students about their college's definition of sexual misconduct. When the survey was first run by the AAU, colleges were scoring in the teens, with Harvard at 14.5 percent and Brown at 18.4 percent.

While there are gains, though, the current numbers are disturbingly low. When two-thirds of the students on campus don't know the rules, enforcing them with harsh penalties can become unfair.

The Problems With Punishing Ignorance

There is a common saying in criminal law: “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

It should, however, be a mitigating factor when handing down a sentence. Someone who breaks the law in the knowledge that there is a law and that it prohibits exactly what they are doing is more culpable than someone who was unaware of what was legal and illegal.

But like a lot of common sense elements that are present in criminal law, this idea is nowhere to be found in Title IX cases. Students who were unaware that their actions would break their school's code of conduct are penalized with the same high sanctions as students who know full well that what they are doing is prohibited.

This is extremely unfair to students who don't know where the line is drawn. Had they known what was allowed and what was not, they could have made a different decision.

Title IX Defense Lawyer Joseph D. Lento

Joseph D. Lento is a Title IX defense lawyer who represents students and faculty members who have been accused of sexual misconduct on campus. With his help, you can raise the defenses you need to protect your future from a potentially damning allegation of misconduct.

Contact him online or call his law office at (888) 535-3686 for the guidance you need.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.


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