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PrezBo Releases Statement On Sexual Assault

Update (1/30, 1:15 pm): Several deans, including Dean Valentini, Dean Boyce, Dean Awn, and Dean Martinez, emailed a statement to Barnard and Columbia undergraduates this afternoon. It’ll be under the jump.

Update (9:50 am): Debora Spar, President of Barnard College, emailed a statement to Barnard College. Find it after the jump as well.

At 9 am this morning, President Bollinger emailed this statement to the entire university. Over the past few weeks and months, there’s been growing criticism of Columbia’s improper handling of sexual assault cases, including an investigative piece by The Blue and White’s Anna Bahr.

Most notably, President Bollinger committed to more transparency throughout the system; he promised to release anonymized statistics on “gender-based misconduct” by the end of this school year, and also expressed his support for a review of PACSA (whose members currently aren’t disclosed) and forums to discuss how cases of sexual assault are taken care of by the University.

While we can’t forget the tradeoff between transparency and confidentiality—and PrezBo doesn’t—there’s few who would say that the current system for reporting and trying sexual assault allegations is ideal. Catch the email after the jump.

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

Gender-based misconduct and sexual assault have no place in our community. Period. A commitment to increase awareness of such misconduct, decrease its frequency, support survivors of violence, and hold accountable students who violate university policies, has long been a priority at Columbia. I can assure you it will continue to be so.

For the past few months, we have been reviewing relevant policies and procedures, and several initiatives already are underway. These include last week’s launch of a new website that sets forth our policies on gender-based misconduct and explains to members of our community what they can do and where they can turn if they believe they have been harmed by such misconduct. Building on these efforts and on conversations with student leaders, I am directing that the following steps be taken to address each of the proposals put forward by the University Senate’s Student Affairs Committee (SAC) in its statement issued on Sunday night:

First, aggregate, anonymous data related to sexual assaults and other gender-based misconduct will be released beginning with the current academic year. This will require a delicate balancing of confidentiality and transparency. The release of such information will go beyond the annual reporting and publication of criminal complaints required by the Clery Act, a federal law serving as the national standard for disclosure. We will be sensitive to avoiding the creation of unintended impediments to the reporting of gender-based misconduct. All students must be confident that their rights are protected and feel safe when reporting such incidents.

Second, I support the University Senate’s review of the University’s Presidential Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault (PACSA), established at the Senate’s direction. Such a review could usefully encompass the charge of PACSA, the composition of its membership (particularly with respect to expanding student participation), the nominating process employed to name PACSA members, and proposals for greater transparency consistent with PACSA’s mandate and the confidentiality of student records.

Third, our undergraduate deans and the deans of several other Columbia schools have received requests for forums to be held for the purpose of discussing ways to improve the handling of gender-based misconduct cases. They are in the process of considering how best to convene these discussions in order to reinforce a campus climate of trust and mutual support, and whether these forums are more effectively scheduled before or after a University Senate review of PACSA. It is a process I fully support.

The problem posed by gender-based misconduct and sexual assault across the nation’s college and university campuses is both highly complex and demanding of urgent attention. I am open to new ideas and to student concerns as we strive collectively to meet this unfortunate challenge.


Lee C. Bollinger

Here’s what DSpar emailed to Barnard, agreeing with PrezBo.

To members of the Barnard community,

The following email from President Bollinger addresses the critical issue of gender-based misconduct and sexual assault. I want to reiterate his message of zero tolerance for this type of misconduct, and emphasize that Barnard College is deeply committed to maintaining a campus environment that is safe for every member of our community.

As the broader Columbia University community continues to discuss the policies and procedures for identifying, reporting, and responding to this type of unacceptable behavior, we too will continue to be actively involved in the conversations around this important issue.

Debora Spar

From the deans:

Dear Barnard and Columbia Undergraduates,We want to further emphasize yesterday’s message from President Bollinger: gender-based misconduct and sexual assault have no place in our community. We support the actions that President Bollinger has initiated to meet this challenging issue as outlined in his message (appended below).As undergraduate deans, we are deeply committed to maintaining a campus environment that is safe for every member of our community. We thank you for bringing your concerns to us and for your willingness to partner with us to address this challenge collectively.We will be reaching out in the coming days to meet with the student groups that have played a leadership role in increasing awareness of this issue on campus, including the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) of the University Senate, the student councils from our four schools, and the Columbia University Democrats, to determine the best framework and timing for a public forum for all students to discuss this important issue.

We are committed to open dialogue and discussion, and we want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to foster a safe and supportive undergraduate community.

Peter J. Awn
Dean of The School
of General Studies
Mary C. Boyce
Dean of The Fu Foundation School
of Engineering and Applied Science
Avis E. Hinkson
Dean of the College
Barnard College
James J. Valentini
Dean of Columbia College and
Vice President for Undergraduate Education
Tom Harford
Dean of Students
School of General StudiesAlina Wong
Associate Dean for Student Life
Barnard College
Terry Martinez
Interim Dean of Student Affairs
Columbia College and The Fu Foundation
School of Engineering and Applied Science

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  • trigger warning, pussies says:

    @trigger warning, pussies because some who are false accusers can get charged with perjury when they’re caught lying. alas, there are no consequences in a false court for false accusations. the barnard girls, feeling scorned by an ex or looking to raise their self-importance out of feelings of insecurity and/or egomania, realize they can still destroy the life a columbia boy worked every day of his short 18 years to achieve with a single utterance. because men will listen to women often because they want to fuck them (women have power because men let them. we are our own worst enemies). of course, these accusers wouldn’t understand what it means to work for something so hard that your very soul is on the line.. so when they try to expel these columbia guys outta jealousy and ego, they have no clue that their immaturity and whining about a moderately mild crime can be so damaging to others.

    rape at gunpoint is bad yes (and I wish that upon no one) but, physical assault is worse (yet we treat it with no where near the gravity it ought to be treated with). what grinds my gears is calling something rape after two drunk people did it is bullshit and is taken way too seriously. such uproar discredits actual rape victims (bitch, have you been to africa? your life is fuckin pillowy-soft if you think drunk sex is the same as rape). I know everyone is gonna flip out at this comment, but take your fucking head outta your ass for a second and hear me out. too much groupthink here.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous While I’m 100% for keeping our campus safe and protecting our students, some of the revisions to the Gender Based Misconduct criteria fall into a gray area: is it gender based misconduct to ask someone out on a date even if there’s a high likelihood you’ll be rejected? Is it gender based misconduct if you are sharing an intimate moment with someone and don’t want to spoil the passion of the moment by taking it a step further? Is initiating flirting that might be unwanted but not known to the intiator gender based misconduct? Is consensual BDSM gender based misconduct at the time of the occurring act? As a society, we need to create definite boundaries, and part of that is exercising our right to say, “NO” if we feel uncomfortable. I know it’s a lot more complicated, but sometimes you need to be straight with a person and assert yourself. Some law students better get on this, although it seems well structured with civil protections for all parties involved.

      Just my two cents.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Columbia’s gender-based misconduct and sexual harassment policies are an absolute joke and a fine example of the ass-backwards sense of correctness this school has been pursuing over the past decade. It’s crippling the campus community and steering prospective students in the other direction, all in plain sight–it’s a widely-known, obvious trademark of Columbia University by now.

    I’ve seen one too many talented students forced out of their enrollment here because of these kind of Title IX “offenses” that administrators of other schools would not even bat an eye at. It’s shocking and horrifying what supposedly competent individuals representing an elite university are doing in the name of an overblown far-left agenda.

    1. APWBD says:

      @APWBD Dammit, that was meant to respond to the Anonymous poster talking about how this development/movement will end due process in sexual assault cases on campus

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Congratulations to our student leaders for taking important steps to end due process in sexual assault cases. No doubt the current agitators will find even a single”not guilty” verdict acceptable. Remember, if in doubt, it’s rape!

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous lol your understanding of these things is incredibly basic

  • anon says:

    @anon Maybe i’m just crazy but I can’t see why it is Columbia’s responsibility to deal with sexual assault. Shouldn’t the actual law enforcement be dealing with crimes? Isn’t the main reason for their existence? I never hear about places like Goldman Sachs or Google putting people on trial for crimes committed, so why should a company like Columbia be expected to be anymore involved in this kind of stuff? It is naive to think Columbia, or any private school for that matter, exists for a purpose beside making money. Of course they are going to do what is best for them and deal with these things however they see fit. This should be a police matter not a private company’s. I would expect the student body’s total anti-capitalism/anti-free market attitude to make this apparent. In every CC class everyone is always shitting on money making institutions, but yet you trust one to deal with a criminal in a fair way. WAKE UP SHEEPPLE!

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous I reeeeeally hope people understand that I say this with full mind to how horrible these crimes are, but I agree. If there’s a robbery or assault on campus or around Morningside Heights, the NYPD is involved immediately, because Columbia is a (money-interested) academic institution, not a world in-and-of itself that has (or should have) a full legislative and judicial body that deals with things like this.
      Also, just a word – for those who complain about the endless faceless bureaucracy and high tuition of CU and the crappy state of most buildings, classes, etc these two things are not unrelated. If you want a massive bureaucracy that deals with everything that happens in student lives you’re going to have to give up the money somewhere.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous I could be totally off the mark here, but as much as Columbia is a company, it is also an Institution whose mission is to mold young minds that hopefully affect the world in a positive way. Inaction signals apathy and gives off the impression that we SHOULDN’T be outraged… I mean, the money Columbia makes ultimately serves a higher purpose, doesn’t it? To enrich young minds and create leaders? Perhaps this is too rosy a view. Either way, I’m happy there’s at least the impression that something is being done.

        1. anon says:

          @anon Too idealistic. The whole points of even educating students is because more successful students = more alumni donations = more profits. Columbia is a corporation looking for a profit it just happens that students succeeding in life helps with the profit.

  • me says:

    @me the end of the year?! jesus, bollinger, you sure are covering your own ass. LET’S GET SOME REAL CHANGE. coalition against sexual violence and CU dems and others will be making more demands…this is the minimum that he could have done. WE WANT REAL POLICY CHANGE! WE WANT FACTS NOW! WE WANT AN END TO THIS SHAME!

    1. Pipes in Pupin says:

      @Pipes in Pupin Dude you really gotta stop posting “Me” as your name. I know it’s accurate and all, but I just had my 2:10 smoak and once again thought that my subconscious had posted your comment while I was asleep. THE CONFUSION HAS TO END

  • Alright Prez Bo says:

    @Alright Prez Bo Nice press release, but let’s start with expelling ‘Tom’ from Anna Bahr’s piece. Or if he already graduated, revoking his diploma. Then I’ll believe that you’re truly committed to taking action, and not just waffling words around to placate those of us who are rightfully outraged. Serial rapists should have no place on this campus, and the fact that he assaulted three women and only got a slap on the wrist is shameful

  • Heisenberg says:

    @Heisenberg Why don’t rape victims just go to NYPD? Why have this problem be a Columbia problem in the first place?

    1. BC says:

      @BC In theory, the school has less cases to deal with than the NYPD and can more quickly take action, esp if the survivor wants a non-legislative solution (eg. having thier rapist removed from campus). But in reality, they sweep everything under the rug so people aren’t afraid to send their children here

  • SEAS 14 says:

    @SEAS 14 I really liked the statement, it clearly laid out his position and next steps. He is also giving students inputs on how to structure the conversation through PACSA.

  • Bullshit Bollinger Part 2 says:

    @Bullshit Bollinger Part 2 In fact, forget about this stupid effort you are making. Every rape victim should go to NYPD. Maybe then, Bollinger , you’ll finally be thrown into jail for covering this shit up for years.

  • Bullshit Bollinger says:

    @Bullshit Bollinger This is the extent of what is going to be done. Sending damn emails. Nothing will change here. They are too wrapped up in protecting their image. You are disgusting Bollinger.

  • CC16' says:

    @CC16' This is a win for our entire community and the integrity and safety of our students, not just the Dems.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous of course, of course, I was just wondering if this satisfies everything they were asking for

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous So is this a win for the dems? It’ll be interesting to see how they respond.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous This is a win for anyone who does not approve of rape.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous I didn’t mean to not imply that! Just wondering if this letter signals the end of their campaign, or whether they’re looking for more

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