#sexual assault
Columbia’s New Gender-Based Misconduct Policy For Students


President Bollinger has announced Columbia University’s newest Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Students, which can be found here. We’ll try to break down his email, which mostly mimics what was sent out a few days ago by deans, below:

  • Goals of the policy:  “to strengthen confidence in the University’s handling of reports of sexual assault and other gender-based misconduct, to ensure fairness for all parties involved, and to provide more assistance to students in need.”
  • Improving key personnel: students will no longer serve on hearing panels, and advisors or attorneys may now accompany students to any meetings or hearings related to investigations.
  • Navigation: Case managers will guide students (both “complainants” and “respondents”) through the process, and help with living arrangements.
  • Logistics: They’ve added six new staff members to the Office of Sexual Violence Response and will open a new Rape Crisis Center location on the seventh floor of Lerner. Undergraduate orientation training has been “expanded.” PrezBo reminds us that Suzanne Goldberg is his new “special advisor.”
  • Pats on the back: “Today’s new policy is one among many reforms we have initiated to try to deal with what is most certainly a national issue.”

Yes, this is a national issue, and this is a new policy, but much of it is the same. Appeals (page 17-18) will continue to be made to the dean of the respondent’s school, and the timeframe for resolving reports is still 60 days, yet there is no check placed on this (page 12). We’ll be looking into the more minute differences between the new policy and the old policy (as updated in August 2013), and will update accordingly.

Update (11:20 am): The introduction from DSpar’s email to Barnard is also included below.

Update (11:35 am): See a statement from several student groups, calling it “misrepresentative for Columbia to characterize these reforms as a response to student concerns,” below. The letter expresses disappointment that the Executive Vice President of Student Affairs did not get to oversee the process, and that student input was not considered. It continues: “The policy does not guarantee accommodations like housing and academic changes for survivors, it does not establish clear or useful sanctioning guidelines, it does not sufficiently improve the training for staff members who interact with survivors, and it leaves the appeals process in the hands of Deans with no expertise, inadequate training, and a clear bias.”

Read the full text of the email sent, after the jump.

Columbia Male Student Fights Sexual Assault Disciplinary Action
Princeton, ew.

The wrong type of cat

Princeton’s newspaper, The Daily Princetonian, published a piece on a male Columbia student suing the University for unjust trial and punishment during a sexual assault investigation in Spring 2013.

The student, referred to as John Doe in the suit, criticizes the University, saying that he was unfairly treated in a sexual assault case carried out by Columbia in which he received a year and a half suspension. John Doe further argues that the sexual intercourse between himself and the plaintiff female student in the University investigation was consensual, adding that it was the female student’s idea to engage in sexual intercourse.

The student’s suit against the University comes after a long semester of sexual assault awareness. Student groups have demanded that the administration improve its sexual assault policies, especially in dealing fairly and promptly with student’s sexual assault complaints. John Doe blames this recent protest by saying that he, the assailant, was wronged in the process rather than the plaintiff, as recent public accounts support portrays to be the problem in most sexual assault cases. The suit also claims John Doe’s rushed judicial process was a result of pressure of political movements on campus.

To view the entire suit from the student, see The Daily Princetonian’s copy uploaded online.

Inferior to Roaree via Wikimedia Commons

No Red Tape Planning Graduation Solidarity Demonstration

no red tapeNo Red Tape is asking graduates to attach a piece of red tape to their graduation caps in solidarity with the ongoing struggle to improve the policies and culture around sexual assault at Columbia.

Read on for their letter to graduates, and information about how to get the red tape (bolding by Bwog):

To the graduating students of Columbia’s Class of 2014,

This week, we celebrate all that we have accomplished at this University — and all we have endured. As you may know, this semester, students have demanded that the University take several important steps to reform a woefully inadequate set of services, policies, and procedures dealing with sexual violence that students face on campus.

Although we have been promised some reforms, there has been no significant change to our level of community safety, to the pain and trauma survivors must endure when they see their perpetrators on campus, to the rape culture that pervades this school.

Read on for more information.

Emma Sulkowicz Files Police Report For Sexual Assault

In the last week, campuses around the country have been reeling over an increased focus on sexual assault, and publications from all fronts have addressed the topic. Here at Columbia, the past seven days have featured lists of four alleged rapists in bathrooms in Hamilton, Lerner, and Butler.

On the morning of May 14, according to Spec, Emma Sulkowicz, CC ’15, filed a police report against Jean-Paul Nungesser, CC ’15, for alleged sexual assault.  Nungesser’s name appeared on the list circulating around campus listing the names of four alleged rapists.

According to Spec, Sulkowicz went to the police after finishing her finals on the 13th.  She filed a complaint with the NYPD after being dissatisfied with Columbia’s internal handling of the case.

Sulkowicz’s experience with the NYPD was harrowing, to say the least.  She describes the police as “dismissive,” as they emphasized the fact that she had engaged in earlier consensual sex with Nungesser and that she could not remember specific details of the attack, like what shoes Nungesser was wearing. They demanded graphic details, and one officer also allegedly told friends Sulkowicz brought for emotional support that he “didn’t believe [her] for a second.”

Sulkowicz, one of 23 survivors who recently filed a Title IX claim against Columbia, was also featured in a Time Magazine video, part of Time’s recent feature on sexual assault on college campuses. Sulkowicz writes, “The Columbia administration is harboring serial rapists on campus. They’re more concerned about their public image than keeping people safe.”

Columbia University has declined to comment on the matter.


The List Resurfaces At Senior Cruise v2.0

Bwog just got a tip that the same flyers with the names of alleged campus rapists are in a bathroom at Senior Cruise v2.0. We’ll update if we hear back about the list at the other senior cruise.



President Bollinger Issues Update on Sexual Assault Prevention

prezboToday, President Bollinger sent out an email blast with an update on what the university is doing to prevent sexual assault. Updated below.

The statement comes as Columbia’s sexual assault policies have become a hot discussion topic. Recent events like the filing of Title IX complaints, a letter written by faculty in support of the complaints, and the appearance of lists of alleged rapists on bathroom walls and fliers have increased campus awareness.

More importantly, the story has been picked up by CNN and the New York Times, adding public pressure. This clearly forced PrezBo to send out an update, even though he didn’t have much to say that we don’t already know.

His previous statement also covered:

  • the EVP of Student Affairs,
  • improved access to support for victims,
  • and the creation of the President’s Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault (although it’s now called the “Presidential Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault”).

New items mentioned in this statement included:

  • A new location for the Rape Crisis Center will open in Lerner.
  • The Office of Sexual Violence Response will have on-call staff available 24 hours a day.
  • “Enhanced” coverage of sexual assault during orientation.

Barnard’s DSpar issued a simultaneous statement.

  • She noted that Title IX complaints have been filed against a total of 55 schools, so it’s not just us!
  • She reiterated that Columbia hasn’t received a copy of the complaint, which is their excuse for not commenting on it.
  • Reminded Barnard students of resources they can use, including the Furman Counseling Center.

Full statements after the jump.

CNN Interviews Columbia Sexual Assault Victims

Columbia is on CNN again, and this time, it’s not for something funny. Remember when we spotted CNN setting up for an interview in front of Philosophy Hall? As it turns out, they were interviewing three Columbia sexual assault victims. Hear their stories:

Bwog’s super-sly spy shots await you after the jump.

A Statement On Conflict Of Interest

To the members of the Columbia community: Bwog does not condone rape culture. We are firmly committed to fostering a safe community. Over the last six months, we have made coverage of sexual assault on this campus a priority in our reporting. As a news publication, we consider it our responsibility to further transparency around this issue and have been dedicated to increasing its visibility and facilitating discussions on and offline.

On May 7, allegations that a member of our staff had violated Columbia University’s Gender Based Misconduct policy were brought to our attention by an anonymous tip. As a reiteration of our continued work against rape culture, we have taken steps to ensure that the makeup of Bwog’s staff, without question, reflects this. Accordingly, we asked this staffer to permanently and immediately resign from their position, and they agreed. Our decision does not reflect a position on the innocence or guilt of this former staff member, nor does it comment on, take a position on, support, implicitly or explicitly, any allegations of fact or law made against such person. To have allowed this staff member to remain a part of Bwog would have, in the opinion of the editorial staff, been a conflict of interest, hampering our ability to accurately report on campus activism. More importantly, in the opinion of the editorial staff, we felt that allowing this staffer to continue his affiliation with Bwog would have tacitly endorsed a rape culture we so firmly stand against.

We delayed publishing the photos until they went viral online—but delayed publishing only because we were in conversation with Bwog’s legal counsel and university administrators, who insinuated that posting the list, in any capacity, might have violated Title IX, FERPA and/or made us vulnerable to libel or defamation lawsuits. We felt it necessary to discuss the legal landscape surrounding 1) posting photos of the lists that have appeared in campus bathrooms and 2) removing the accused staff member. We are encouraged to see the amount of productive dialogue being held about an issue that each member of our staff cares deeply about.

This decision was not made lightly and is meant to reflect our zero-tolerance policy toward rape culture and sexual assault. We would like to reiterate once more that until proven true in a court of law, any and all allegations made are merely that, allegations. In accordance with our comment policy, any attempts to identify the individual involved in the comment section will be removed. Any concerns or inquiries should be sent to jake@bwog.com.


Sarah Faith Thompson, Editor-in-Chief

Claire Friedman, Managing Editor

Alexander Pines, Features Editor

Maud Rozee, Internal Editor

Jake Hershman, Publisher

List Of Names Of Alleged Rapists Written On Bathroom Walls

*UPDATE 8:38pm* See an editorial statement from Bwog’s board posted tonight at 8:25pm.

*UPDATE 3:38pm* Bwog would like to note that the following does not represent the opinion of the staff or the editorial board as a whole. We have removed the 2:47 update addressing the use of the word “legitimate” because, again, the piece only reflects the opinions of its authors and not of Bwog itself. We do apologize for failing to make this distinction clear when the piece was posted.

In addition, we were tipped that there are “rape list flyers” in Lerner and Butler bathrooms.

Over the past week, three pictures of a list of people who have allegedly violated the sexual assault policy have been tipped to campus media. The first list, written May 7 in a women’s stall in Hamilton, had each name in a different hand-writing and pen color, suggesting that it was written by multiple contributors, but a thorough check through all of the bathrooms in the building showed it was gone within hours. The second, written yesterday in a women’s stall in Lerner, is clearly all written in the same handwriting, as is the third, seen in Butler late last night. We have seen Facilities working diligently with the administration to take them down immediately.

On May 7, after receiving the first list, Bwog was in communication with senior administrators, who told us that publishing the list would violate Title IX as well as FERPA. That, and the desire to be responsible and not start a witch hunt, are the reasons that the uncensored list will never be published by the media. In addition, perhaps writing this list (and publishing the work of a campus “vigilante”)  is not the best way to create a safer campus environment for victims.

We strongly encourage the prosecution through Columbia or the legal system of sexual assault perpetrators and taking all appropriate actions to “cultivate a community that is hostile to perpetrators of sexual violence,” and we acknowledge the bravery of victims and faculty to help force change from the administration by sharing their stories. We are incredibly disturbed that people think this is a legitimate way to deal with the issue.

*Update 10:48 am:* Bwog has gotten tips, and seen for ourselves, a fourth list, written in huge letters in a women’s stall on the second floor of Butler. Public safety has taped up the door, but the bathroom is still open as of 5 minutes ago. Public safety is also taping up the women’s bathroom on the fourth floor.

A very similar incident occurred at Brown in 1990. Brown’s administration was eventually forced to respond to lists of alleged rapists scrawled on bathroom walls.

Faculty Release Letter Supporting Complaints Against Columbia’s Sexual Assault Policies

no red tapeAlmost 100 faculty members have signed a letter calling for Columbia University to improve its sexual assault policies. The letter supports the recent complaints filed against Columbia for its handling of sexual assault under Title IX, Title II and the Clery Act. It condemns Columbia’s response, and calls for “serious and substantial reform with strong student involvement in the process.”

Since the problems with Columbia’s sexual assault policies were raised by Columbia Dems, No Red Tape, and Anna Bahr’s Blue and White piece, the administration has hosted two town halls, and reformed the membership of the President’s Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault. The administration has also promised us a new Executive Vice President for Student Affairs, the release of anonymous aggregate data on sexual assault on campus, and changes to Columbia Health, NSOP and the Columbia/Barnard Rape Crisis Center.

The letter (bolding by Bwog):

To the Columbia Community:

We were shocked to learn of the Title IX, Title II, and Clery Act complaints filed against Columbia on April 24th. We applaud the bravery and fortitude of the students who filed these complaints.

As troubling as it is to learn about the level of sexual misconduct on campus, we are even more dismayed by Columbia’s response to these problems. It is clear that University policies and enforcement are insufficient and even harmful to creating an environment where students feel safe and supported. We, as a community, must do more to make this school a place where all students are safe from violence. We must do better.

As faculty members of Columbia University, we demand an environment that is safe for every member of our community, regardless of gender. Having an environment where everyone feels comfortable and secure is essential for learning.

We want students who have been victims of sexual assault to know they have our support. We commit ourselves to work with our community to change the campus climate so that rape, sexual assault, and violence are not a part of any community member’s experience. And we will ensure that University policies do not just comply with Federal requirements, but go further so that all students experience the kind of support and respect that our community can provide.

To achieve these ends, we demand that the University enact serious and substantial reform with strong student involvement in a transparent process.

We must change the culture here. The brave students who filed a complaint against our university have taken the first step. We stand with them.

Read the names of the faculty who signed

Reading Lit Hum’s Rapes
Every sexual assault in Lit Hum, post-it'd.

Every sexual assault in Lit Hum, post-it’d.

While Bwog is generally not about the op-ed lifestyle, sometimes we’re tipped articles that we think are important to talk about. The following was sent to us by CC first years Miles Hilton, Lara Tang, and a third writer who wished to remain anonymous. This piece does not reflect the opinions of Bwog or its staff.

Love it or hate it, the Core is Columbia College’s backbone. It was the first part of Columbia thrust upon prospies and first years alike and many incoming students were thrilled to be handed copies of The Iliad over the summer. When I picked up my Alumni Association-stickered edition, I had the sense that some kind of essential knowledge was being passed to me from the older generation. Yet as I read through the syllabus I began to wonder what I was supposed to be learning, especially about rape and the treatment of marginalized peoples.

So I started reading these books in the context of Columbia’s discussion of rape culture, the campus climate, and administrative reforms. Specifically, I looked at the relationship between the Lit Hum curriculum and the work being done by student activists like No Red Tape, the Coalition Against Sexual Violence, and the 23 students who filed Title IX complaints against Columbia University.

I went through the syllabus page by page (becoming probably the only student to do so) and annotated every instance of rape, assault, or other non-consensual activity. In the first semester, a quarter of the characters were women and about 20% of those women were raped, which is on par with conservative estimates of rape on college campuses. The second semester had a much higher figure than the first, around 50%, mostly due to Ovid’s Metamorphoses (which has roughly 80 instances of assault). Even this number is an underestimate, though, as I treated many of the instances of mass rape on the syllabus as a single data point for simplicity. It’s worth noting that these mass rapes were almost always directed at a conquered group—think about the “victory tour” after the Trojan War portrayed in The Odyssey. Far from being confined to works written by the guys carved into Butler, however, these tactics are still used in imperialist warfare today.

Violence in the syllabus and more after the jump.

Fireside Chat, Graduate Edition
The venue

The venue

PrezBo held one of his famous fireside chats; this time, for graduate students. He served us pretty good burritos and nachos, as well as the smallest cupcakes Bwog has ever seen. Wonder what he said? Presidential party crasher Artur Renault has got you covered.

People were very confused at my name tag, which said “Bwog,” where theirs stated their school affiliation. My standard answer to “What school is B.W.O.G.?” was “I’m getting a doctorate in squirrel studies.” I got mixed reactions.

Soon we were ushered from the large, old, hardwood-floored room with the buffet into a large, old, hardwood-floored room with chairs specially placed so we could talk to PrezBo.

Here’s what he said.

University Statement On Title IX Filing

The following University statement was sent out, noting that Columbia cannot comment on the allegations of the Title IX complaint because they have not yet seen it. It also states that Columbia is working to improve the current system, which will continue even in the face of the Title IX, Title II, and Clery complaints filed. Read it below the jump, emphasis ours:

Haven’t seen it, can’t comment.

Columbia Ends Sexual Violence By Baking A Cake
If it were only so simple.

Miniature version of the cake: a cupcake.

Bwog reader Chelsea Carrick submitted the following essay to us in what we find to be an incredibly timely response to recent events

New York, NY—Administrators responded to students’ requests for increased transparency and improved policies surrounding sexual violence at Columbia University by baking a cake. The cake, red velvet, was tastefully decorated with fondant roses and writing stating “Sexual Violence Prevention” in elegantly scrawled red cursive letters.

Terry Martinez, Dean of Student Affairs, told students Tuesday upon the presentation of the cake in Ferris Booth Dining Hall, “I think we heard you. I think what this cake is saying is that we heard you. We heard you.”

Students were initially frustrated by the lack of progress being made by administrators, but students and faculty alike seem to think that this cake is a step in the right direction. Carmen Velazquez, a Columbia student, told reporters, “It looks like we can have our cake and eat it, too. I asked for the slice with one of the red roses and my friend asked for the T from the word assault. Not to mention I feel totally safe now.”

We were able to reach President Bollinger for comment while he was out canoodling with the students (as he is known to do) on the steps right outside of his office in Low Library. “I would have made the cake myself if my schedule wasn’t so overburdened. This cake addresses all of the students’ demands. What have they been asking for? Sexual violence prevention. What did we give them? Sexual violence prevention. Written on cake. Excuse me while I go run a quick 5K in the park with some of my undergraduate pals over here.”

Let’s discuss that cake, though.

Group Files Title IX And Other Complaints Against Columbia

no red tapeIt’s been a busy few months for the topic of sexual assault at Columbia. There have been protests and controversial responses, New York Post articles and Blue and White articles, one town hall and another town hall, and the significant use of our tag “sexual assault.”

The latest development: a group of 23 students under the name of “Our Stories CUis filing Title IX, Title II, and Clery complaints against Columbia University for its handling of sexual assault on campus. On April 3, the same thing happened at Harvard. The press release below notes: “students allege that the university has failed to comply with federal laws to ensure equal access to education, respond adequately to reports of sexual assault, and provide accommodations based on disability status.”

Examples of the violations claimed by the group in their 100+ page complaint include allowing perpetrators found guilty to remain on campus, showing hostility to victims based on gender identity, and deterring a student placed on academic and disciplinary probation—allegedly for being a “mental health liability”—from receiving mental health services.

The press release continues that “Columbia is more willing to silence and punish survivors and their supporters than serial rapists.” Read the full text below the jump.

Update (4/25 11:30 am): Bwog also received a tip about a Title IX Teach-In today at 4 PM in 754 Schermerhorn Extension: “If you want to know more about Title IX, come to a teach-in TODAY with Annie Clark (End Rape on Campus), Elischia Fludd (a sexual assault policy advocate), Dana Bolger (Know Your IX), and Christina Brandt-Young (Legal Momentum).”

Update (6:00 pm): The University has released a statement regarding the complaint, noting that they have not seen it but are still committed to reforming current sexual assault policies on campus.

Update (4/25 5:30 pm): The Columbia Coalition Against Sexual Violence has released a statement on the recently filed complaints as follows:

The Coalition Against Sexual Violence fully supports the actions taken yesterday by survivors and complainants in filing Title IX, Title II, and Clery complaints against Columbia University and Barnard College. This year, the Coalition has advocated for serious changes to the resources, policies, and procedures for responding to sexual assault on this campus. While the changes we are advocating for will improve the process for the future, we want to emphasize that a federal complaint may be the only way for students whose cases were mishandled to have those cases reexamined. Moreover, we recognize that while many survivors and complainants are members of the Coalition, our policy work is not accessible to all survivors on campus. Our aim has always been to elevate survivor’s voices and this complaint highlights the diversity of students who are affected by sexual assault. These complaints demonstrate how urgently needed these changes are– every day that changes aren’t made, survivors on campus are being harmed by inadequate mental health and crisis resources, adjudication processes that fail to meet their needs, and a lack of access to housing and academic accommodations.

With this in mind, we unequivocally support these actions taken by students to make themselves safer on this campus. We want to reaffirm our commitment to continued reform to Columbia’s policies and to expanding the resources for survivors on campus. We will continue to push for progress and want to emphasize that this conversation cannot be put on hold while these complaints are being considered. Students need Columbia’s process to be reformed immediately and we support, encourage, and welcome any actions taken to ensure that necessary changes are made.

The release after the jump.