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On Friday, September 21, Dukes Vote held its first Civic Coffee Donut Discussion on the topic of “Addressing Sexual Misconduct at JMU.” To frame our conversation, we developed a brief primer with some statistics, questions and resources, which are below. We also developed some recommendations for next steps posted here. Our discussion centered on what might be done structurally and through policy to address sexual misconduct both on and off-campus at James Madison University.


  • 1 in 5 female college students are survivors of sexual assault. (Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation Survey, 2015; Krebs, Lindquist, Berzofsky, Shooks-Sa & Peterson 2016; Cantor et al., 2015)
  • 11% of rapes on campus are reported, making it the most underreported violent crime. (Rand, 2009; Kilpatrick, Resnick, Ruggeirio, Conoscenti & McCauley 2007)
  • More than 50% of survivors don’t report because they believe the event was is not “serious enough.” (Cantor et al., 2015)
  • 70% of women sexually assaulted on a college campus knew the perpetrator. (Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation Survey, 2015)
  • Students with disabilities experience assault at 2 times the rate of non-disabled students. (Cantor et al., 2015; Scherer, Snyder, Fisher, 2016)
  • LGBTQ students face an increased risk of violence: nearly 1 in 4 undergraduate students identifying as transgender, gender non-conforming, questioning or other experience sexual assault after enrolling in a higher education institution. (Cantor et al., 2015)
  • Rates of sexual assault among women are lower at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), but women are more likely to have been assaulted before arriving on campus. (Krebs et al., 2011)
  • 9% of college men admit to acts that meet the legal definition of rape or attempted rape. (Abbey & McAuslan, 2004)
  • 63% of college men who self-reported that they had committed an act of rape or attempted rape, also admitted to repeat offenses. (Lisak, Gardinier, Nicksa, & Cote, 2010)
  • Members of fraternities are more likely to hold to hold rape-supportive beliefs and sexually aggressive attitudes toward women than non-members. They also have been found more likely to use alcohol incapacitation, verbal coercion, threats, and force to obtain sex. (Boyle, 2015)


Only by understanding the factors that contribute to the persistence of sexual assault on campus can we begin to address the problem. Factors identified as contributing:

  • Individual Behaviors (Mindsets and habits of students)
  • Campus Culture and Norms (the context; cues from peers and administrators; change only happens through an enabled and engaged student body)
  • Impairment (Alcohol and Drugs – poor judgement, less control → greater risk of assaults)
  • Accountability for Offenders (reporting frequency, college processes and policies, legal processes)


How do these factors relate to each other at JMU? What can JMU do?

Individual – orient students to the community; instill value, especially respect; discourage destructive behaviors and encourage healthy ones

Culture and Norms – Is the administration supportive and responsive? How does administration shape attitudes and behaviors? How do peers support (or not) survivors and respond to their experiences? How does JMU build and sustain an aspirational culture?

Impairment – How does JMU’s policies related to drinking and substance use relate? Do current policies have unintended consequences, such as encouraging heavy drinking over a short period of time prior to socializing in larger groups (e.g. before football games)? Is there a “party culture” that needs to be examined?

Accountability – Are accountability mechanisms a strong enough deterrent (i.e. is there a credible threat of penalty)? Do processes encourage likelihood of reporting? Why aren’t they reported at JMU? How effective are campus processes? Are they supportive of survivor needs with a clear path to results?


  • Campus-wide study into what contributes to the persistence of sexual misconduct on campus
  • Revising processes for investigation and adjudication
  • Creating a student advisory board to adapt programs to different communities across campuses
    • identifying areas where students need clarification of policies and resources,
    • supporting “program evaluation” efforts, working on sexual harassment prevention initiatives
    • serving as “informal ambassadors” for their respective schools.
  • Improvements to Title IX training
  • Online modules tied with course registration
  • Bystander intervention training.
  • Including discussions and trainings in Student Orientation to instill campus aspirational values


Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices (OSARP)

Handles JMU’s Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process

    1. As a result of feedback received by the campus community, two changes were made this Fall in the JMU Student Handbook:
      1. J21-100 Noncompliance policy
          1. Provides further clarification on situations in which students are expected to comply with lawful and/or reasonable instructions or directives, as well as who is considered an authority to provide those instructions/directives
      2. Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process
          1. The use of character statements are only to be used after a finding of responsibility has been made in the Sexual Misconduct Case Review

Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Tim Miller is holding listening meetings with students. SIGN UP HERE.

Campus Assault ResponsE (CARE) is a student-run organization that works to address the issues of sexual assault and partner violence.

Students Against Sexual Violence is a student coalition advocating for redress of sexual violence on campus. SASV has recommended the following policy proposals to the OSARP process:

      1. Prohibit submission of “character statements” in determining responsibility for Title IX violations (implemented)
      2. Immediately expel all students found responsible of rape
      3. Enforce time limits on sexual misconduct investigations
      4. Bring in trained professionals with relevant backgroundss to hear sexual misconduct violations
      5. Continue providing all title IX protective measures regardless of OSARP decision
      6. Increase access to records for reporters of sexual violence

Green Dot trains faculty, students, and staff in bystander intervention to help prevent power-based personal violence

University Health Center Red Flag campaign raises awareness and uses bystander intervention to prevent sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking on college campuses

Student Government Association advocated for character statements only being heard after a student is found responsible.

Faculty Senate has passed motions to support survivors and encourage the administration to develop a plan to address sexual assault (see e.g. this one).


  • Meet with Dr. Tim Miller about leading on outreach and education efforts in student affairs – especially to Fraternities and Sororities – to transform the campus climate.
  • Promote and participate in the walk and discussion organized by CARE about empowering survivors of sexual assault in JMU’s Arboretum on 10/1. We can promote and participate.
  • Research what other campus models are for addressing sexual misconduct and developing a culture of respect.
  • Outreach to Fraternities and Sororities asking them to have members take a pledge to not engage in sexual misconduct.
  • Ask and encourage Fraternities and Sororities to join a “Banner Up” campaign to raise awareness for sexual violence by displaying messages on off-campus housing.
  • Develop a presentation for classes during sexual assault prevention weeks. Ask Faculty for time to conduct 5 minute presentations during class time.
    • April is sexual assault awareness month.
    • February 4th-10th is sexual abuse and sexual violence awareness week.
  • Title IX
    • Revamp Title IX Training for faculty and ensure all graduate students are trained.
    • Develop student modules similar to that done by University of Virginia in partnership with EverFi.
    • Clarify what “mandatory reporting” actually means so that students and faculty aren’t afraid to interact.
    • Responsible Employee Reporting → “JMU has designated all paid faculty, staff and student employees as Responsible Employees.  When a Responsible Employee, during the regular execution of their paid duties or while representing JMU in an official capacity, learns directly or indirectly about sexual misconduct involving a JMU community member, the employee is responsible for sharing the information with Title IX.”
    • JMU employees are required to report to the Office of Title IX when they see, hear, overhear, learn about, or receive a direct report of any type of sexual assault or sexual violence. Note: This does not specifically state what information title IX reporters need to disclose when reporting.


Abbey, A. & McAuslan, P. (2004). A longitudinal examination of male college students’ perpetration of sexual assault. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72, 5, 747-756.

Boyle, Kaitlin M. (2015). Social psychological processes that facilitate assault within the fraternity party subculture. Sociology Compass, 95, 386-398. doi: 10.1111/soc4.12261

Cantor, D., Fisher, B., Chibnall, S., Townsend, R., Lee, H., Bruce, C., & Thomas, G.  (2015). Report on the AAU campus climate survey on sexual assault and sexual misconduct.

Kilpatrick, D.G., Resnick, H.S., Ruggierio, K.J., Conoscenti, L.M., & McCauley, J. (2007). Drug- facilitated, incapacitated, and forcible rape: a national study (NCJ 219181) Medical University of South Carolina, National Crime Victims Research & Treatment Center; Charleston, SC.

Lisak, D., Gardinier, L., Nicksa, S. C., & Cote, A. M. (2010). False allegations of sexual assault: An analysis of ten years of reported cases. Violence Against Women, 16, 1318-1334. doi:10.1177/1077801210387747

Rand, M. R. (2009). National Crime Victimization Survey: Criminal victimization, 2008. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.

Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation Survey. (2015, June 12). Kaiser family foundation survey of college students on sexual assault. The Washington Post.