Fixing What's Wrong with How Universities Adjudicate Sexual Misconduct Claims: How Procedural Change Can Encourage Cooperation
39 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2017 Last revised: 3 Oct 2018
Date Written: October 2, 2018
Processes that are considered to be fair for both accused students and victims are what’s missing from the way institutions of higher education adjudicate campus sexual assault. Ideas for reform are available from a myriad of sources. Evidence-based guidance; however, is in short supply. This Article seeks to provide much needed structure for the debate regarding campus sexual assault by describing a model based upon procedural justice theory. The experiments described here investigate the proposition that students will be more likely to report sexual assault and assist authorities when asked, if they trust those authorities because they believe that the process for settling disputes is fair. Results show that perceived fairness matters. When students were presented with fair policies and procedures, they reported having greater confidence in the disciplinary system, which corresponded with greater willingness to cooperate with authorities. Exposure to fair policies increased willingness to cooperate, even when the outcome was unfavorable. Accordingly, students’ opinions about the process should factor into the reform of university disciplinary systems.
Keywords: Sexual Misconduct, Discipline, Procedural Justice, Civil Procedure
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