top of page

College Students: Sexual Assault and Campus Prevention

How can college's help protect students?


How can college campuses help prevent sexual assault?

To prevent sexual assaults on campus, colleges and universities need to ensure that the policies and procedures currently available to students are proper and easily understood. If supportive policies and procedures are not now in place, the school must take reasonable steps to implement standards and reporting practices that are helpful and efficient, including:

  • Emphasizing affirmative consent policies by ensuring that all students are aware of and understand the college or university’s current policies

  • Offering required courses for students to take on an annual or per semester basis to teach them about consent, sexual assault, prevention strategies, and warning signs

  • Creating better policies and procedures for reporting sexual assault, thereby ensuring that the complexity of the process is not a reason that a victim fails to report the incident

  • Having student and organizational activism groups that aid in educating the student body of the campus’s current policies that offer support to victims and raise awareness for campus sexual assault warning signs, safety tips, and other preventative or protective measures

  • Creating basic safety guidelines for students to follow to ensure their protection and wellbeing and that of those around them when on campus

  • Having a support line set up so that students who experience sexual assault and are going through the reporting process do not feel isolated, alone, judged, embarrassed, or blamed

  • Providing resources for students, such as “safe places,” for them to speak with someone about their experience in their own words with confidence that they can report the assault on their own time and in their own way

Various departments of the college or university need to get involved and become aware of the policies and procedures necessary for students to report the sexual assault and related to the subsequent investigation. Campus administration, counseling services, and campus or local law enforcement should all work together to ensure student safety before, during, and after a sexual assault. Each department, individually and together, plays a vital role in addressing and responding to college sexual assault and providing support for the victim.


According to our education and research partner, Herman Law, colleges and universities may potentially be liable for campus sexual assault under federal law. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 “prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.” Under this federal law, discrimination based on sex can include sexual harassment or violence.

Under Title IX, when addressing sexual harassment and violence, a school must respond promptly and effectively to all sexual assault reports. If the school knows or should have known about sexual violence happening on campus, the school must take immediate action to eliminate that violence, prevent future sexual assaults, and address its effects.

Another federal law addressing sexual violence at colleges and universities is the Clery Act, which requires these institutions to disclose crime statistics and security policies. Additionally, legislators signed into law the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act to require all institutions of higher learning to educate students, faculty, and staff on the prevention of sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking.

In addition to federal laws, many states are also taking specific legal actions to address campus sexual assault. For example, New York’s Campus Accountability and Safety Act, passed in 2015, provides strong protection for both the victim and the accused and adopts a sexual standard of “yes means yes.” New York state legislators passed this bill with the intention of its eventual implementation in every college campus across the nation.

How does One Life Project help protect students from sexual assault on college campuses?

The One Life Project partners with hundreds of colleges and universities across the United States so that we are able to work with students and school administration directly in creating an environment that is safe for students to learn in. In reality, many students feel that their school doesn't do enough to help prevent sexual assault on campus and many survivors state their school didn't do enough once they were told of the assault. One Life Project staff and volunteers partner with colleges to make sure that appropriate advocacy efforts, laws, support, and rules are in place so that sexual assault doesn't happen, and for when it does, colleges are prepared to handle it immediately and promptly so that survivors can get justice. The One Life Project also holds offices within select colleges in New York, New Jersey, Missouri, Vermont, Maine, Florida, and Pennsylvania to help advocate and speak out on behalf of sexual assault survivors to help prevent future acts from happening. Through advocacy, education, and activism, we hope to align all universities and colleges on our standards for sexual assault prevention and support as anything less is unacceptable.

bottom of page