Every two minutes, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. Of those victims, only 54% of sexual assaults are reported to the police and only 3% of rapists ever spend a day in jail. (Statistics: RAINN)
These are depressing statistics, but thanks to the efforts of a group of survivor-activists, there is hope for the future with the launch of Know Your IX, a campaign that aims to educate all college students in the United States about their rights under Title IX, the landmark federal civil right that prohibits sex discrimination in education. The site offers survivors resources to report assaults, change policies at their college campus, support victims and spread the word about sexual violence.
My hope is that Know Your IX will help students file complaints at some of the biggest offenders when it comes to dealing with sexual assaults on college campuses.
Take a look at some of the worst offenders below.
1. University of California, Berkeley
After being raped on campus by a fellow classmate, Aria Mostov said the following of her school’s handling of her sexual assault: ”The process made me feel raped a second time.”
Not only did the school inaccurately record her testimony, saying that when she told her assailant to stop he did (which she reports he did not), the police then declined to investigate and she was forced to attend class with her alleged rapist five days a week for an entire semester. Mostov filed another complaint, even showing a recording of her alleged rapist confessing, but the case dragged on for six months and was ultimately dropped.
Mostov is not alone. The Student Coalition Against Rape (SCAR) at the school held a news conference last month reporting that the school ”grossly mishandles sexual assaults and rapes on its campus.”
“Students who go to receive counseling are promised services they never receive, they’re not informed of their rights, they’re not treated with the same respect and they’re not provided the same material as the students accused of raping them,” said Tucker Reed, co-founder of SCAR and a survivor of rape herself.
2. University of North Carolina
When the University of North Carolina was facing increasing reports of sexual assaults on campus, they found the perfect solution: pressure the assistant dean of students to underreport.
That’s exactly what happened to Melinda Manning, then UNC’s assistant dean of students,who spent the majority of her time serving as an ally for sexual assault victims. When she refused to cooperate, Manning endured a hostile work environment for the next two years directed mostly by her supervisor who canceled meetings without notice, failed to respond to emails and ultimately lashed out with threats. Eventually she resigned after working at UNC for 11 years.
Manning and three UNC students, as well as a former student, have come forward to file a complaint against the school with the U.S. Department of Education claiming the university violated the rights of sexual assault victims and facilitated a hostile environment for students reporting sexual assault.
“I’m filing because I don’t want anyone else to have to experience what I did because of the negligence of the University and their failure to acknowledge the importance of survivors’ needs,” said one of the victims in the case.
3. University of Southern California
When a student at the University of Southern California reported being raped to campus police she was told that the assault wasn’t actually considered rape because the assailant did not orgasm.
When another student reported being sexually assaulted at a fraternity event, she was told by an officer that women should not “go out, get drunk and expect not to get raped.”
Clearly, USC is mishandling reports of sexual assault on their campus. Luckily, several students have taken matters into their own hands filing a Title IX complaint against the school for their failure to respond promptly to complaints of harassment on campus and prosecute rape.
Tucker Reed, the lead complainant, provided an audio recording of her boyfriend admitting to raping her and the school still dismissed her case saying that the goal was to offer an “educative” process, not to “punish” the assailant.
“The problems are rampant within every department, pretty much every service on campus,” said Reed. “There is an overwhelming disregard for women and students going through obvious trauma, and they traumatized them further.”
4. Swarthmore College
It’s no surprise that colleges that mishandle sexual assault reports also tend to blame the victims.
Such is the case of Hope Brinn, a student at Swarthmore College who reported being sexually harassed on campus. Rather than offer Brinn protection or at the very least some compassion, she was asked repeatedly what she did to “provoke the behavior.”
What’s worse? A university official also told her that there was no need to purse judicial action against her assailant because his admission of guilty “was punishment enough.”
Brinn is one of a group of students who filed a federal complaint with the U.S. Department of Education alleging that their school creates a “hostile environment” for sexual assault victims. She is hopeful that the complaint and formal investigation will help change the culture at her school.
“Students are talking,” Brinn said, “and the government is listening.”
5. Wesleyan University
I was very happy that my alma mater did not have Greek life. After learning about the “Rape Factory” fraternity at Wesleyan University, I am even happier.
A student identified as Jane Doe who was raped at said frat during a Halloween party has since filed a federal complaint against the school for violating Title IX by failing “to supervise, discipline, warn or take other corrective action” against the “Rape Factory.”
According to the complaint, “Wesleyan did nothing to prevent, and was deliberately indifferent to the harm caused to Jane Doe by the rape and outrageous sexual harassment and intimidation that followed her everywhere on campus.”
While Wesleyan eventually terminated the fraternity’s status as program housing, they did not protect Doe from the harassment she faced after her identity was discovered. Those angry about the ban on the fraternity staged protests at her door and other places on campus chanting “Free Beta” at her.
6. Yale University
Arguably one of the most prestigious universities in the country, Yale, can be added to the growing list of schools facing Title IX suits filed by students unsatisfied with the handling of their sexual assault cases on campus.
Yale can also be credited with helping inspire the launch of Know Your IX, the national student movement against campus sexual violence. One of the complainants of the suit, Alexandra Brodsky, is also the brains behind the movement and speaks eloquently about her own experience with sexual assault over at The Guardian.
Women everywhere are used to being told to accommodate those who wrong us. With family, friends, bosses, and partners, we must always be understanding and flexible, ready to dig deep into our well of second chances and generosity. We must never complain or make trouble. Our devotion to this image of the good girl particularly infects our responses to survivors of sexual violence…We can deconstruct this pressure to stay quiet, but it is very real and very powerful, and it benefits universities looking to avoid scandalous headlines for the sake of reputation, application rates, and alumni donations.
I agree with Brodsky that we can no longer afford to be “good” and stay quiet. It is time to be loud and demand change and I am certain that Know Your IX will help countless women find their voice and seek justice.
Photo credit: Photo by Shaun Greiner used under a Creative Commons license.