Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Social Innovation (M.A.)

Degree Program

School of Community Leadership & Development

First Advisor

Thomas Haas

Second Advisor

Azfar Hussain

Third Advisor

Raymond Higbea

Academic Year



There are federal and state laws that were created to protect against sexual assault. The laws, such as Title IX of the Educational Amendments, the Jeanne Clery Act, and state child protection laws, have mandatory reporting and response requirements within them. Yet, in recent years there have been a number of high-profile sexual assault scandals involving athletic departments in higher education that illustrate the failures and shortcomings of these laws. This research will examine the institutional failures at Penn State, Michigan State and Baylor University in their handling of reported sexual assault. The goal of this research is to seek to understand why institutions of higher education continue to mishandle sexual assault cases. A critical case study of three institutions was conducted by using current literature, including investigative reports, journal articles and media publishing’s. Commonalities were identified and themes were established involving the unequal distribution of power. Conceptual models were utilized to develop alternative structures to create the framework for the equal distribution of power. Analysis showed that amending current state or federal laws will not address future institutional failures, but rather creating alternative structures where power is equally distributed will.

Keywords: Sexual assault, sexual misconduct, power, institutional betrayal