CU Dems have been circulating a petition calling for information on how Columbia deals with sexual assault. “Transparency” is a word we hear thrown around pretty often, so truth seeker Joseph Rosales interviewed Austin Heyroth, CC’15, VP of the Dems, for some details.
Bwog: Can you give a quick intro to the petition and the campaign, maybe talk about why/how transparency can improve safety?
Austin: We started looking into Columbia’s sexual assault policy last year after a number of students privately expressed concerns with the policy and the lack of transparency about how it works. Most of the people we talked with were worried that Columbia might have the same issues that a number of other colleges and universities have been in the news for–things like incredibly lax punishments for offenders, like what we’ve seen at Yale, or that the punishments that are put in place can be changed by a single person in the administration.
Columbia also hasn’t released any estimates of the true rate of sexual assaults on campus. It doesn’t provide any information on how Public Safety officers are trained to respond to sexual assaults or support survivors. Another related issue that we’re dealing with, but that isn’t part of the petition, is that the Rape Crisis Center is at Barnard–meaning that any non-Barnard students who need to go there need to talk with a (generally male) security guard, give the guard an ID with their name, and tell the guard that they’re going to the Rape Crisis Center. Obviously that process could be incredibly difficult and stressful for someone who is a survivor or victim.