The Intersection of Race and Sexual Assault on College Campuses

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Jul 08, 2021 | 0 Comments

There's no denying that sexual assault is a charged issue on college campuses. Students, faculty, and university staff members have all shifted their attitudes toward sexual assault, taking a harder stance on it. While it may be a positive step that universities want to be more active in preventing sexual assault, sometimes the actions meant to uphold students' Title IX rights end up trampling on the rights of others.

Sexual assault on college campuses is a complex issue, and many schools have not accounted for diverse perspectives on the matter. What happens when schools neglect to recognize the intersection of race and sexual assault is a shortchanging of justice for students of color, both the accusers and the accused.

Bringing Race into the Conversation on College Sexual Misconduct

Universities across the US had a reckoning concerning sexual misconduct following the #MeToo movement. One year after the death of George Floyd and the galvanized Black Lives Matter movement, some higher education administrators wonder if it's time to change the conversation about sexual assault again.

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently asked if race would factor into U.S. President Joe Biden's review of Title IX policies. Race has always played a part in college sexual assault cases, but it's never been at the forefront of the issue. One reason that administrators have overlooked race is that there's less data about it. K-12 schools report racial outcomes in discipline, whereas the Education Department doesn't require the same for colleges and universities. Without this data, it's hard to formulate specific policies that address Black students' experiences with Title IX procedures.

How Does Race Factor into Investigations and Hearings?

Specialists and those who've studied sexual assault and race point to three main factors that make Title IX investigations and hearings more difficult and less just for Black students:

  1. Cultural barriers: Black victims of sexual violence often don't come forward because they worry that reporting it will heighten the fear of students of color on predominantly white campuses.
  2. Lack of diversity: When a Black student is accused of sexual assault, the college administrators they must deal with are usually white. A 2018 survey from the Association of Title IX Administrators said more than 70 percent of Title IX coordinators were white women. Also, hearing panels may often include only white university administrators.
  3. Prior trauma: It's possible that Black students involved on either side of a sexual assault case have had traumatic experiences dealing with disciplinary processes or police in the past, which makes undergoing investigations and hearings more difficult to deal with.

The Importance of Considering Race in University Sexual Assault Cases

If you're a student of color who's been accused of a Title IX violation at your school, you may not know the best way to defend yourself. Attorney Joseph D. Lento of Lento Law Firm has experience nationwide protecting accused students' rights in misconduct cases. Contact the Firm today at 888-535-3686 for more information.

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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