It has been three years since the government issued new guidelines for how colleges must handle sexual violence, but this was the year we learned just how badly our institutions needed them. Stories of sexual assaults on campuses—and mangled responses by colleges—made rape a dominant issue for American colleges and universities. Meanwhile, in response to those who criticized the coverage as sensational or downright overblown, a growing number of women revealed their own experiences of sexual assault at college. Here are the stories that fundamentally changed the way we think about sexual assault this year:
New York magazine chronicled the crusade of Emma Sulkowicz, a Columbia University student who began carrying a 50-pound mattress everywhere to represent the burden she carries after the university cleared the senior man she accused of rape. The alleged perpetrator, Paul Nungesser, told the New York Times this month that he has been unfairly maligned and humiliated thanks to Sulkowicz's allegations.