Top 10 News Stories On America's College Campuses in 2013, Part 2 of 2By Russell Westerholm
Perhaps the most prevalent and most troubling trend of all in 2013 was the several schools that were met with federal complaints for not properly addressing reports of sexual assault.
The U.S. Education Department's (ED) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has opened dozens of investigations into various schools and their policies and practices on reports of sexual assault.
This past year also saw some troubling hoaxes, threats to safety on campus and tragic events. Multiple schools saw their fraternities, sororities and other campus groups investigated for allegations of injuries and death allegedly caused by hazing.
Here are the rest of the news stories from 2013, from numbers one through five.
Robert Champion died in early 2012, but those responsible have almost all been charged this year. On a bus, Champion, a member of the famed Florida A&M University (FAMU) marching band, was forced to walk from one end to the other while members beat him.
It is a hazing ritual for newcomers and it turned the public's attention to how such rituals are dangerous and can easily get out of hand.
15 were charged in relation to Champion's death and, so far, eight have accepted plea deals. Court proceedings are ongoing.
Several schools, including Baruch College, West Virginia University, Cornell University, Auburn University and many more, have had to deal with allegations of hazing. Many of those institutions' fraternities, sororities, sports teams and other groups have also been penalized in the instance that the allegations were proven to be true.
4. LGBT issues on campus
The Princeton Review released a list of the ten least friendly campuses to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community.
At Florida Atlantic University, a student was not allowed to borrow a laptop at the campus library because he "looked like a woman." He is a gay man and was not dressed in a feminine manner, which he will do on occasion, on this specific occastion. The library attendant told Abdul Asquith he looked like a woman and the person on his ID card was clearly a man.
Asquith said he was embarrassed to have to engage in a dispute about his gender, sexual orientation and ID card with a line of students forming behind him.
On the other hand, schools like Ohio State, UCLA, University of Chicago, Cornell University and many more were outspoken in wanting make their campuses more accepting to people of all sexual orientations.
3. Campus safety
A shooting at Oikos University in Oakland, Calif. in April left seven people dead and three wounded. A shooting on Santa Monica College's campus in June left four dead before the gunman killed himself.
Both incidents, as well as past school shootings, have lead to heightened security on campus. Earlier in Dec., a University of New Haven student prompted a four-hour lockdown when he was allegedly seen near campus carrying a rifle. No shots were fired and the student was taken into custody.
Also earlier in Dec., a student at Harvard called in a bomb threat and forced four buildings to hurriedly evacuate. He later admitted to the hoax because he wanted a way out of taking his final exams.
In late-Nov., New Haven police were alerted about a gunman on Yale University's campus, but after an all-day lockdown and search, no shots were fired and the initial 911 call was deemed a hoax.
Also in Nov., a student returned to his dorm building at Central Connecticut State University a few days after Halloween. He was dressed in his costume, a character from a video game, armed with fake weapons. He prompted a campus lockdown and did not know it until the police came looking for him.
2. Cost of college
President Barack Obama made the cost of higher education one of his main objectives for his second term. He devised a proposal to rate government-funded colleges and disperse money based on ratings. The plan is meant to give government aid to worthy schools, but many have been critical of the plan.
Also at the federal level has been an ongoing saga involving Sallie Mae, the Education Department's preferred student loan servicer. Sallie Mae was investigated by several agencies for mistreating their borrowers. No one has been more critical of the Education Department's handling of the whole situation than Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
1. Sexual assault
To say the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has had their hands full with complaints regarding various schools' response to sexual assault reports would be an understatement.
In 2013 alone, the OCR engaged in, are currently investigating and/or completed probes into dozens of colleges following complaints that administrators and police mishandled reports of sexual misconduct. The schools include Yale, UNC-Chapel Hill, Occidental College, University of Southern California, University of Colorado-Boulder, University of Connecticut, Dartmouth College, University of Montana, Emerson College and others.
If a school does not release an annual transparency report detailing all reported campus crimes and their outcomes, it is a federal violation of the Clery Act. If a school does not adequately investigate a reported crime and fails to ensure justice after a decision is made, it is a federal violation of gender equality law Title IX.
A female midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy came forward in 2013 about a sexual assault she claims she endured in April, 2012. Two defendants in that case currently await court martial.
Four former football players for Vanderbilt University are currently awaiting trial and face charges of aggravated rape.
Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston was accused of sexual assault, but a Florida state attorney recently decided not to pursue criminal charges, citing not enough evidence. The accuser's attorney was adamant recently that the Tallahassee Police Department did not conduct a proper investigation.
CLICK HERE to read part one of the top 10 college news stories of 2013.