Students Demand Rape Kits at Texas University

By Peek & Toland on February 27, 2017

As many as one in five female students are raped at their colleges and universities, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The figures have fueled demands for rape kits on campus at one Texas university.

An article in USA Today reported that hundreds of people signed a Change.org petition asking the University of North Texas (UNT) to supply rape kits its campus health center.

The requests were opposed by officials who said costs made the request unfeasible.

University of North Texas students ask for rape kits

Rape kits have become a big issue on some Texas campuses

The article quoted a group of undergraduate students who said they were shocked to discover there were no rape kits available on their campus.

Their shock quickly became galvanized into a petition that attracted in excess of 500 names. The USA Today article pointed out as many as 20 percent of women who study at a university or other institution become victims of sexual assault. That statistics suggests as many as 3,000 women out of 36,000 at UNT will experience sexual assault during their time on campus.

The campaign failed to move university authorities. Spokesman Buddy Price said the health center at the campus is geared toward sexually transmitted infections, trauma, and pregnancy — as opposed to sexual trauma.

There’s clear evidence that rape kits are beneficial. A recent study by Case Western Reserve University of approximately 5,000 un-submitted “rape kits” in Cuyahoga County, Ohio led to the indictment of 520 defendants and 211 sexual assault convictions, suggesting an ongoing conviction success rate of 90 percent, reported Forbes.

DNA evidence from these kits can also clear defendants who are wrongly convicted of crimes. In some cases, a defendant was convicted of sexual assault on the basis of false allegations.

Rape on campuses is has been a hot button for years. In 2014, Rolling Stone documented an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia. The report came from an interview with an unidentified witness. The story later unraveled and the publication lost a defamation case brought by a former member of staff at the University in 2016.

Although sexual assault is clearly a serious problem at universities, our Austin criminal defense attorneys are well aware of the need for solid evidence. Texas, like many other states, has a large backlog in the testing of kits that threatens to impede justice.

If you have been accused of rape or another sexual assault, you should hire a seasoned Texas criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Call us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Criminal Defense

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Sanctuary Campuses Are Being Created to Help Immigrants

By Peek & Toland on January 26, 2017

President Donald Trump has vowed to cut funding to so-called “sanctuary cities” that protect undocumented immigrants. But some universities are following suit and labeling themselves as “sanctuary campuses.”

A report on KTTC stated colleges and universities in some states are reacting to fears of immigrant students and following the policies of sanctuary cities.

In New Mexico, the state with the highest percentage of Latino residents, college administrators are considering becoming sanctuary campuses and putting policies and protections in place to allow undocumented students to continue their studies.

There are also moves in Texas, California, Georgia, Illinois and Minnesota to protect immigrant students known as Dreamers.

Sanctuary campuses may help immigrants

Trump has pledged to end President Obama’s executive order that granted temporary status to undocumented immigrants. He has promised to set up a “deportation force” and withdraw federal funding from sanctuary cities. Trump has said little about sanctuary campuses.

Although the sanctuary campus term remains an unclear one, there is a push underway to protect undocumented students at universities and colleges across the country, noted The Atlantic.

The president of Wesleyan University reportedly said after consulting with the school’s legal counsel and its board of trustees that the college is going to become a sanctuary campus.

California State University system stated in late 2016 that it would remain a welcoming space for undocumented students.

While the university said it would not be using the “sanctuary” term at any of its 23 campuses in California, it made it clear it will not cooperate with a federal policy that targets immigrant students who live illegally in the country.

The University of California has announced steps to protect its undocumented students. It won’t be helping immigration agents or providing any confidential records without court orders. The university said it will refuse to give information for any national registry based on race, religion or national origin.

Over the next few years, we are likely to be seeing a protracted struggle between universities and cities and the federal authorities over the rights of undocumented immigrants.

Many of these young people have been in the United States for many years and deportations can rip families apart. Please see our Austin immigration lawyers’ success stories about how we have fought deportations.

To schedule a consultation please contact us via this link, or call (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Immigration, Immigration Reform

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