By Cari Simon
The semester Deena* was raped, her grades plummeted: She received a “D” in one course and failed another. It was the classes requiring participation in which her grades suffered the most, as some days she was too terrified to leave her dorm room, especially after running into her assailant on campus.
When Deena went to her academic dean to explain, he patronized. “Lots of students graduate with a 2.0,” he said. Sure, Deena was aware that some students did. But Deena graduated at the top of her high school class; she shouldn’t have been one of them.
I’ve worked with more than a dozen campus sexual violence survivors, and Deena’s experience is all too common. All of my clients saw their grades suffer, sometimes dramatically. While there are no national statistical studies on the impact of sexual assault on grades, my colleagues report similar findings.