Original document was submitted as an honors thesis requirement. Copyright is held by the author.

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In a study published by the United States Department of Justice in 2000, it was found that one in four college women experience rape or attempted rape during their time in college. Since this report was released, the numbers have not changed. According to the National Institute for Justice, fewer than three percent of all college women become victims of rape which translates into 35 such crimes per 1,000 women students (National Institute of Justice, 2005, p. 2). This research for practice also exposes that between eighty and ninety percent of victims and assailants know each other (National Institute of Justice, 2005, p.2). In his speech to the University of New Hampshire in April 2011, Vice President Joe Biden referred to this epidemic on college campuses as Americas “dirty little secret.”

Sexual violence is prevalent across institutions of higher education in American society. Because the issue is not explicitly recognized by university communities, students are not given the tools, discourse or safe space to express their experiences with sexual violence. This in-depth study on universities across the country sets out to understand why sexual violence is not being talked about, details the legal mandates that all postsecondary institutions receiving Title IX funds must comply with, outlines the components which make for effective sexual assault policy and programming and explains the roles of administration, faculty and students in creating a collaborative effort for combating sexual violence.

This thesis specifically focuses on Pace University and the issues it faces in effectively addressing sexual violence on its New York City Campus. The findings suggest that although Pace has made strides in responding to sexual violence by implementing a new, fairly comprehensive policy (Appendix C) in January 2011 there is still much more to be done. Funding must be reallocated so that Pace University can have a model framework for preventing, responding and intervening in cases of sexual violence. This paper performs a comparative study between Pace University and other institutions of higher education which supports the idea that Pace University is not doing enough to protect its community. Recommendations include suggestions for improvement for Pace University specifically, and a general overview of the fundamentals which make for effective and comprehensive policy and programming for postsecondary institutions of higher education in the United States.

Using political theories of power and a sophisticated standpoint feminist stance, this research describes the factors that deters students from reporting sexually violent crimes, clarifies the features of policy and programming which encourages students to report and advocates for collaboration between individuals in positions of power and activists within the community, while arguing that a transformation in attitudes and behaviors toward sexual violence response and prevention is necessary for change.