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This Common Response To Campus Sexual Assault Doesn’t Actually Protect Victims

In most college sexual assault cases, schools take the early step of instituting a no-contact order between the alleged victim and the accused assailant. The order, similar to a restraining order, serves as an interim accommodation for the person reporting an assault. It helps keep the two parties away from each other before, during or after an investigation by the school.

Yet students who have filed federal civil rights complaints against colleges, especially small liberal arts schools, often say that administrators fail to address violations of no-contact orders by their accused assailants.

"I would definitely say it's one of the most common problems we've seen," said Sofie Karasek, co-founder of the activist group End Rape on Campus.

Considering that fewer than a third of students found responsible for sexual assault are expelled, these no-contact orders are sometimes the most stringent restriction put in place for assault cases.

A Vassar College student, Margot Mayer, publicly accused her school last week of failing to enforce a no-contact order with her assailant. And in a case that was opened for a federal investigation last month, Skidmore College is accused of failing to punish a student who a dozen times violated a no-contact order in place between him and a woman who accused him of assault.

Sadie, a pseudonym for the female student who filed the complaint against Skidmore, a college in Saratoga Springs, New York, said that multiple reports of her accused assailant entering her dorm building and following her on campus did not result in additional punishment for her offender.

But no-contact orders can be implemented effectively if college administrators do what Skidmore officials did toward the end of Sadie's ordeal -- get specific. That change resulted in the accused student's suspension for repeated violations of the order.

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