The issue of sexual assault on campuses and how to best combat these incidents is a highly debated topic among legal professionals. How should these crimes be handled and what can colleges do to protect their students?
In this episode of Planet Lex, host Daniel Rodriguez speaks with Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Professor of Law Deborah Tuerkheimer about campus sexual misconduct. Deborah shares that historically universities have not handled issues of sexual assault well and that the significance of the problem is still being assessed as we look at how institutions of higher education respond to these situations. She talks about the 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter issued by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights on how campuses should handle sexual misconduct and provides insight into how the document represents a shift in the way the federal government approached the issue. Deborah explains what Title IX is and how it helped establish that sexual harassment can create a hostile environment. In addition to the civil and criminal systems, she discusses what campuses can do to help those affected by sexual misconduct and why disciplinary responsibilities fall squarely on campuses to ensure that affected students are able to continue their education. Deborah closes the interview with her perspective on what else the federal government can do to bring adequate attention to these issues and the impact that the “Dear Colleague” letter has had on our nation's campuses.
Deborah Tuerkheimer joined the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law faculty in 2014 after serving as a professor of law at DePaul University since 2009. Professor Tuerkheimer received her undergraduate degree from Harvard College and her JD from Yale. She teaches and writes in the areas of criminal law, evidence, and feminist legal theory. Her book, “Flawed Convictions: ‘Shaken Baby Syndrome’ and the Inertia of Injustice,” was published by Oxford University Press in 2014. She is also a co-author of the casebook “Feminist Jurisprudence: Cases and Materials” and the author of numerous articles on rape and domestic violence. After clerking for Alaska Supreme Court Justice Jay Rabinowitz, she served for five years as an assistant district attorney in the New York County District Attorney's Office, where she specialized in domestic violence prosecution. Tuerkheimer was elected to the American Law Institute in 2015, an esteemed group of judges, lawyers, and legal scholars dedicated to the development of the law.