If you are a college student or employee at a public school or college, you have certain rights under federal law.

These rights also may apply if the person who assaulted you is a student or school employee.


Title IX (nine) of the U.S. Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination against anyone based on their sex. This includes any public school (K-12), college, university, vocational school, or other school that receives federal funding.

Sexual harassment or assault can be a form of discrimination based on sex.

University and college campuses are required to work to prevent these problems and respond to victims of all genders. The Title IX Office or Coordinator leads these efforts. They also receive complaints of possible violations and investigate them. If someone is found responsible for violating Title IX, they could be disciplined.


If the incident fits the legal definition for any crime (including sexual assault, sexual abuse, or rape), then it can be reported to police like any other crime. This could be campus police, or a police department in the city or county where your campus is located (or where the assault took place).

You can read more about Reporting to Police, or use SEEK THEN SPEAK to begin completing a police report.


If the incident doesn’t meet the legal definition for a crime (for example, if it only involves sexual comments or jokes, but not sexual abuse or assault), then it is not a criminal matter, so the police will not take a report or investigate it. However, you can still report the incident to the Title IX Office or Coordinator on campus.

If you report an incident of possible sex discrimination to a Title IX Office, they may start an investigation. If you are not sure whether you want an investigation, you can reach out to a victim advocate first. That way, you can ask questions and learn more before contacting the Title IX Office. Go to the topic above if you want to learn more about victim advocates.

It is important to understand that Title IX is a civil process that will not result in criminal charges. The only way criminal charges can be filed is to report to police.


Campuses may offer free and confidential services for students, including health care and counseling.

You may choose to use these services on campus, in the community, or both.


As a final option on campus, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit against the college or university, because sex discrimination is covered by federal civil rights laws.

This requires hiring a lawyer.


For more information on Title IX, including how to file a complaint, visit the Title IX website for the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights.