Professors' Role in Dealing with Sexual Assaults Detailed

A new paper from the American Association of University Professors outlines a role for role for these higher-ed employees to deal with and help to end campus sexual assaults.

University professors have a prominent role to play in dealing with the problem of campus sexual assaults, according to a new report from the American Association of University Professors. The problem is widespread, the report states, outlining current laws and best practices. It is available at

Student-to-student assault is the most common type on campuses, but convictions are rare, it states, citing a 2011 Chicago Tribune investigation of six Midwest universities in which 171 alleged campus sex crimes reported by students and investigated by police were examined. Twelve accused perpetrators were arrested and four were convicted; only one of those four defendants was another student.

"As advisers, teachers, and men¬tors, faculty members may be among the most trusted adults in a student's life and often are the persons in whom students will confide after an assault," the report says. "A faculty member may also be the first adult who detects changes in a student's behavior that stem from a sexual assault and can encourage the student to talk about it. Faculty members may thus find themselves in the role of 'first responders' to reports of sexual assault, yet few consider themselves adequately equipped for the role—in part because they are the least likely campus constituency to receive information about sexual assault and guidance about reporting and responding to it."

Faculty members should be aware they could be called to testify in a criminal proceeding about a conversation with a student regarding sexual assault and may want to consider professional liability insurance, it states.

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