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A Feminist Analysis of Campus Sexual Assault Policies: Results from a National Sample

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Family Relations / Family Relations Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Studies

Published online on


Institutions of higher education (IHEs) in the United States are obligated to address sexual assault on campus under the Clery Act and Title IX, and a recent surge in societal interest in sexual assault among college students has prompted many IHEs to bolster their response. Little systematic information exists about IHEs' sexual assault policies and services and whether they align with feminist‐based models of advocacy. This study examined annual security reports and student handbooks and codes of conduct for a nationally representative sample of 4‐year IHEs (N = 387) and assessed IHEs' responses to sexual assault on college campuses through the lens of a feminist‐based organizational model. Findings indicate that policies for the sampled IHEs include a mean of 12 of 17 policy components' aligned with feminist models, and 4% of sampled IHEs include all 17 components. Implications for improving IHEs' responses to sexual assault in ways consistent with feminist models are discussed.