Sexual Assault Prevention: Strings Attached?

American University has decided it’s not interested in a $300,000 grant to help prevent campus sexual abuse. Apparently the grant would place too many restrictions on students, or something.

According to a piece by Amanda Hess at TBD:

Each year, the U.S. Department of Justice shells out $300,000 grants to help colleges and universities fund initiatives to reduce violence against women on their campuses over a three-year period. Last June, a committee of American University administrators, faculty, and students set to work on drafting an application for the grant, hoping to secure funds for a full-time victims advocate, increased training of school officials, a dedicated student group to involve men in sexual assault prevention—and a “mandatory education program for all new students.”

Well that whole “mandatory” thing is a problem, says AU’s Office of Campus Life, which decided to just skip the money if it meant requiring students to attend a seminar.

AU administrator Gail Hanson said this week that she would not sign the grant application, explaining in an email to students that she doesn’t think “it is appropriate to place stops on students’ registrations if they fail to complete a required sexual assault education program.” Furthermore, “it would be exceptional for us to enforce that requirement through registration stops, as the grant proposal currently provides.”

She told supporters of the grant application that they should try to find “an alternative approach” as a way to obtain the grant next year. Well there aren’t really any alternative approaches. Justice requires that the trainings be mandatory in order for schools to be approved the grants.

American University currently places a stop on a student’s registrations if he has an overdue library book, doesn’t supply the school with his off-campus address, or hasn’t received all of his immunizations, for example.

In the most recent survey of campus sexual activity AU conducted, 6.8 percent students reported “forced sexual touching or fondling.”

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer