Sexual Assault Policies: Minnesota vs. Hawaii

In order to analyze policies of any kind, the best way to do so is by comparing and contrasting similar policies from two different locations. This is why I choose to compare and contrast the policies and procedures of Sexual Assault in Hawai’i and Minnesota. We will analyze both policies of the state as well as policies of universities. We start with Hawai’i and afterword’s will compare and contrast policies with that of Saint Cloud State University.

When you search sexual assault policies in Hawai’i this is the first page that google finds and gives you. At first glance it seems the university takes sexual assault seriously. They state they are committed to creating a community free from intimidation, harassment, and violence. That sexual assault is prohibited by law and is a serious offense. The university continues on and states they will not tolerate acts of sexual assault. Further down on the webpage page the university give us executive policies that they created. Such as each campus will work with the Title IX Coordinator to prevent sexual assault and that each campus will investigate complaints in reasonable time. The specific policy states is EP1.204 which prohibits sexual harassment and sexual violence in any University workplace, program, activity, or service. This policy covers sexual harassment and sexual violence based on gender identity and expression. Retaliation is a violation of policy and persons are subject to appropriate disciplinary action.

The University of Hawaii does provide a pdf of the sexual assault policies that are in effect. The picture of the policy is below,


The policy itself states what we expect it to state which is the university is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of race, sex, age, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, handicap, marital status, etc. Surprisingly this policy states that it covers admission and access to and participation, treatment, and employment in the University’s programs and activities. So often in the news we hear of figures such as James Winston or Derrick getting away with sexual assault in college because they were big stars and the university didn’t want them to face charges or for the sports program to suffer. Also, the policy states they will comply with federal and statutes. This is very important because schools will sometimes have different policies concerning sexual assault, thus making it hard for local law enforcement and the school to work together. In the United States, the majority of universities have been found guilty of hiding the number of sexual assault reports that were filed.

Another document that I found help was a procedure page that survivors of sexual assault are able to read. It states the University of Hawai’i will go through eight steps in regards to a sexual assault case. The first has to do with intake and filling out a report. If the individual wishes to move forward with a campus resolution, the next step is a preliminary inquiry. I myself did not like the term ‘resolution’ because it takes the responsibility and ownership of the crime away from the perpetrator. Resolutions will be conducted by campus officials who received annual training on issues related to sexual assault. This was something that surprised me because previously they state federal and state laws will be upheld but not school officials will lead the investigation. Afterword’s, a preliminary inquiry is brought forth either moving forward with the investigation or not. An investigation will ensure and a decision follows. In regards to the decision a decision make will be appointed to review the fact-finding report. Personally, I found this disturbing because individuals can make bias decisions. If this was done through the proper channels of the police department at least some of that bias would be lessened to a certain degree. Past history of the character in question is not considered unless it is determined to be relevant. What does this mean exactly? I don’t know but it sounds similar to the James Winston case which if his past history was taken into account he would have been found guilty.


A final determination will be made and each part will be informed of the outcome. All parties involved in sexual misconduct proceedings may appeal decisions within a specific time frame which the university decides. Only one level of appeal is made and after the decision of the appeal everything is final. After learning of the process a survivor had to take, I wanted to hold the policy in my hand to see if the procedures matched the policies. I did find a copy of the policy handbook. It states as you would expect that sexual harassment was unwelcome sexual advances, requests, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. What I found disturbing was that the conduct must be both objectively and subjectively perceived as offensive. Meaning, both the reporting party and person committing the offense must view the conduct as offensive. This seems like a great loop-hole for anyone who commits sexual harassment. If the decision maker decides that the circumstance, including the nature of the behavior doesn’t fit the context, then the sexual harassment never occurred. I personally do not like this and believe it is bad policy writing.


The University of Hawai’i does state that sexual assault is committing when unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature occurs, whether by an acquaintance or by a stranger. Such contact is unwanted when it occurs:

• Without the Consent of at least one of the individuals
• When at least one of the individuals is incapacitated or otherwise incapable of giving Consent

So at least the university has policies that are similar to Minnesota state statutes. When looking closer I found the stalking policy a bit unnerving. For example, the University of Hawai’i’s, stalking policy states it is two or more acts of unwanted and harassing behavior, directed at a specific person that is sufficiently serious to cause physical, emotional, or psychological fear or to create a hostile, intimidating or abusive environment. How about if the individual doesn’t notice someone stalking them right away? Or if the survivor has a hard time proving they are being stalked?

The consent policy of Hawai’i is very clear and similar to that of the Minnesota policy concerning consent. It states a person cannot give consent if the person is under the age of consent for sexual contact, the person is developmentally or intellectually disabled, or the person is mentally incapacitated or physically helpless. Lack of protest or resistance cannot be interpreted as consent. Silence cannot be interpreted as consent. Consent must be ongoing throughout any sexual contact and can be revoked at any time. The same document that includes policy on consent also gives us the sanctions if an individual is found guilty of sexual assault or harassment. The list is below including warning, probation, suspension, withholding degree, etc.


In the state of Hawaii, sex crimes are looked upon differently in regards to state law verse university policy. I would prefer that sexual assault is handled by the police department in regards to filling a report, charges, etc. Now, in Hawaii, most sex crimes fall under either first, second, third, or fourth degree sexual assault. The severity of these charges depends on different factors including the victim’s age and the manner in which the sexual assault was committed. Unlike most other states, which have set the legal age of consent at 18, a minor who is at least 16 can consent to have sexual intercourse with an adult in Hawaii. This is one aspect that is different between Minnesota and Hawaii policies in regards to Sexual Assault. Up until 2001, the age of consent was 14. If the minor is at least 14, however, they can still agree to engage in sexual acts with someone who is no more than five years their senior.

Like I stated previously, in Hawaii, sexual assault can be charged under a number of different class felonies. We have first degree which is a class A felony, second degree which is a class B felony, third degree which is a class C felony, and lastly fourth degree which is a misdemeanor. Out of 709 individuals who took part in a survey conducted by the University of Hawaii, Manoah, and local state officials, 70.7 percent of the victims reported the sexual assault to the police. In the report individuals were classified as ITS or Immediate Treatment Seekers and DTS victims also known as Delayed Treatment Seekers. The reporting of the ITS sample was 78 percent which was significantly higher than the reporting rate of the DTS subsample. In conclusion, the survey found out that many victims seek treatment, but a sizable number of victims do not. The number of women who are sexually assaulted in Hawaii and do not contact the police is unknown.


If somebody wanted to have an idea about the demographics of the sexual assault survivors, it is below. A high percentage of the survivors are between the ages of 20-29 (college students). Coincidently, the majority of victims are never married and are Caucasian. It seems when talking employment status as a marker, individuals who are working full-time are more likely to be sexually assaulted than compared to individuals working part-time or who are unemployed. Lastly, when taking education status as an identifier, full-time students on average were sexually assaulted frequently but nonstudents had an even greater chance of being sexually assaulted.


What methods are used in regards to sexual assaults in Hawaii? Surveys found that threats, physical force, deception, and physical injury are the most attack strategies used by perpetrators. Three responses of the survivors which were most frequent when assaulted were trying to run away, resisting physically, and/or pleading or trying to talk him the perpetrator out of it. Those who reported the assault to police were even across the board in terms of race. Lastly, the relationship of the perpetrator to the victim was quite surprising. Most often than not the victim did not know assaulted them (stranger) or it was a husband or partner (current or past). 78.6 percent of the victims answered it was a stranger while 94.3 percent said it was a husband or partner.



After reading the policies concerning sexual assault at the University of Hawaii, we find that even though the policies may be lacking or be written with general/ambiguous wording. The individuals who report sexual assault believe in the system put forth. Law enforcement seems to be trusted by both men and women who are survivors. With a large number of survivors reporting assault but also an unknown amount not reporting. This where we turn to Saint Cloud State University and Minnesota as a state. Saint Cloud State University does have a general policy that is visible on the Saint Cloud State website. It states that students may be held accountable for hazing, sexual and other violence, drinking or providing alcohol, harassment, stalking, and/or violating violations of city ordinances, criminal acts, or federal laws.

Saint Cloud State University is part of MNSCU, which means the policies concerned with sexual violence and the response to sexual violence would be taken from MNSCU directly.


According to MNSCU, sexual violence is an intolerable intrusion into the most personal and private rights of an individual, and is prohibited at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Appropriate action against any individual found responsible for acts in violation of this policy will take place. MNSCU does state the definitions of sexual violence and sexual assault;

1. Sexual Violence: includes continuum of conduct that includes sexual assault, non-forcible sex acts, dating and relationship violence, stalking, as well as aiding acts of sexual violence

2. Sexual Assault: an actual, attempted, or threatened sexual act with another person without that a person’s consent. Sexual assault is often a criminal act that can be prosecuted under Minnesota law, as well as form the basis for discipline under Minnesota State Colleges and Universities student conduct codes and employee disciplinary standards.

A separate document can be found detailing Saint Cloud State Universities response to sexual assault. Different routes a person may go would be to pursue a complain, pursuant to Board Policy 1B.3 Sexual Violence policy. Campus security authorities, when informed of an alleged incident of sexual violence, shall assist the survivor, as requested. Saint Cloud State University has several law enforcement officers who are specifically assigned to handling sexual assaults on campus. MNSCU also gives clear detail about the rights of victims under Minn. Stat. §§ 611A.01 – 611A.06, including the right to assistance from the Crime Victims Reparations Board and the commissioner of public safety.

An organization that is prevalent and well-known in Minnesota would be MNCASA. They have many PDF’s available which outline policies and procedures dealing with sexual assault in Minnesota. In Minnesota, criminal sexual conduct is classified into five statutory categories first through fifth degree. First degree criminal sexual conduct carries the most severe penalties and fifth-degree carries the least severe. First- and third degree crimes apply to cases of sexual conduct involving sexual penetration; second, fourth, and fifth-degree crimes apply to cases of sexual conduct involving sexual contact without sexual penetration. In general, CSC-1 and CSC-2 apply to conduct, involving personal injury to the victim; the use/threatened use of force, violence, or a dangerous weapon; or victims who are especially young. In general, CSC-3, CSC-4, and CSC-5 typically address less aggravated conduct and apply to other situations in which the victim did not consent to the sexual conduct, was relatively young, or was incapable of voluntarily consenting to the sexual conduct due to a particular vulnerability or due to the special relationship between the actor and the victim. In regards to sexual contact, sexual penetration, force, coercion, and consent; we have Minn. Statutes that are written clearly and distinguish each of them. This is something that I could not find in regards to sexual assault policies in Hawaii.

The state of Minnesota has the statue 135A.15 Sexual Harassment and Violence Policy written for the purpose of protecting victims and/or survivors. It was very hard to find anything similar in nature to Hawaii state policy or statutes. Sexual assault is clearly defined in the statute as forcible sex offenses as defined in Code of Federal Regulations, title 34, part 668, subpart D, appendix A, as amended. Victim rights are clearly defined and listed numerically. We have the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act which regulates the security policies of higher education institutions participating in federal student aid programs. The state of Minnesota is a beacon for other states to follow in regards to Sexual Assault policy.

Overall, I believe that the state of Hawaii has a lot of catching up to do. Not only can 14 year olds give consent to have sexual intercourse but university policies are unclear. Compared to the state of Minnesota which has statutes for almost every step such as with filing a report, seeking medical attention (and who pays for it), the investigative process, etc. Similarly, Saint Cloud State University has set up numerous protocols such as the Women’s Center to help coordinate relief effort for survivors. Hopefully, the state of Hawaii and the universities within the state of Hawaii can learn from us and develop their own tools which aid survivors.


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