Yale $165K Fine Highlights College Sexual Assaults

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Cox said university leadership should be out front of the charge to change policy, which is difficult when enrollment is often a school's top priority.

"It's kind of a double-edged sword for them," she said. "They want to promote safe campuses, but when you have more people reporting [sexual misconduct], and more people going to the police, it may look like they don't have a safe campus.

But Cox said the increase in sexual assault reporting might result, in part, from improvements in campus policies that allow for victims to come forward more easily.

"In order for change to happen, there has to be a level of transparency at schools and institutions," she said.

Abigail Boyer, a spokeswoman for the Clery Center for Security on Campus, a nonprofit that works to prevent crimes on university campuses, including violence, said, "We always caution people to look past just the data, to look beyond the numbers."

She said that when institutions provide support and resources for students, it is possible for the number of sexual assaults reported on campus to increase.

"It's not a reflection of how safe a campus is," she said of the reporting. "It's a reflection of institutions using best practices and doing things correctly."

Cox said the Yale University fines might serve as a wakeup call for college campuses that they can still be penalized for failing to report sexual assaults more than a decade after the fact.

"It still says that just because they happened 10 years ago doesn't make them any less important," she said. "If anything, it does show that if these crimes are committed on campus and there is a failure to report, they will be addressed.

"No one is going to skate through without any accountability."

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