One Last Thing Before Committing to a College

One Last Thing Before Committing to a College

College decision time provides great opportunities to have an impact on campus sexual assault. As acceptances roll in, parents and students gain leverage to make a strong statement.

With acceptance letters in hand, parents and students have lots of questions as they set out to make a final decision. Questions about dorms, class registration, transportation, logistics, dining plans, and finances. This is also a chance to press school administrators to more effectively prevent campus sexual violence.

It’s clear that many colleges and universities aren’t connected to parents’ and students’ fears about the danger of campus sexual assault. Writing letters to college or university presidents will tell them you’re concerned about stopping campus sexual assault and expect the school to actively and effectively work toward prevention. Parents and students can use the final decision process to be heard.

Regardless which school your child prefers, before signing an offer of acceptance, parents can send brief letters to college or university presidents and deans of admissions about these concerns. The message should be clear that while making the final choice, you and your child are considering the schools’ prevention programs as part of the process.

Letters should include these points:

  1. Concern that 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted on campus before graduation
  1. The expectation that the school create and implement effective sexual assault prevention programs and protocols
  1. Emphasis that as an institution of higher learning with a range of in-house expertise, including sociologists, psychologists, researchers, and gender studies experts, they are in a unique position to address this epidemic
  1. Specifics about what parents want to see—e.g., bystander intervention training, affirmative consent education, mandatory programs delivered in multiple ways, ongoing training for a student’s 4 years, specific training for fraternities and athletes, and courses about cultural misogyny and sexism

Currently, it’s difficult to compare schools on how they are preventing campus sexual violence. While all schools are implementing plans that meet the requirements of the Campus SaVE Act, they need to do more than check off a requirement. When parents treat campus sexual assault as a consumer issue, schools will work harder to meet the consumer demand by creating and implementing sexual assault prevention programs that work.


Sheri Heitker Dixon is the founder of Keep Her Safe, a non-profit organization committed to making college campuses safe from sexual assault.

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