It’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 CU” is 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.