According to federal law, every college and university is required to provide a safe, nondiscriminatory environment where students can pursue their academic, athletic, recreational and social interests. The increasing prevalence and frequency of sexual assaults that occur on college campuses is alarming, and with the recent fines leveraged against Penn State, the Education Department has shown that they will not be taking these matters lightly.
As a result, colleges and universities will need to reexamine their security protocols. Specifically, schools should pay close attention to athletics and Greek life, which have been identified as having a higher probability to cause violations and accusations.
According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), athletics departments must ensure that their activities and environments protect the health and safety of current and prospective student athletes. Athletics are uniquely positioned to promote a safe and healthy culture due to the close relationships and bonds shared between student athletes, coaches and athletic staff.
In response to the rising number of sexual violence claims by college students, the NCAA enlisted its Sexual Assault Task Force to provide collaborative strategies that will create safer campuses. The result of their work was A Call to Action, which emphasized the damaging effects of sexual violence and called upon all NCAA member schools to address the issue appropriately, along with a Sexual Violence Prevention Toolkit. The toolkit details essential commitments that athletics departments must make and includes checklists and education resources to support these efforts.