The US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced this week that it has added five schools to its list of those under investigation for sexual violence procedures and policies, according to an article by Tyler Kingkade of The Huffington Post.
The five schools are:
- The University of Alaska System
- The University of Delaware
- Elmira College (New York)
- University of Akron
- Cisco Junior College (Texas)
The federal government made it clear that these were investigations, not judgments of guilt. The details of these investigations have, for the most part, not been made public before now.
The investigations are a part of the Title IX law which prohibits gender discrimination in schools that are beneficiaries of federal funds. Federal funding can be withheld from schools not complying with Title IX, but so far there have been only “negotiated voluntary resolutions.”
This is the same law that ensures female athletes have equal access to sports. Many student victims are saying that Title IX has not protected them where sexual violence is concerned.
Some schools inclusion on the public list has had a huge impact on their student bodies and alumni. One such is the case of Williams College, a liberal arts school with an enrollment of 2,052 in western Massachusetts.
According to an article by Matt Rocheleau of The Boston Globe, a newspaper column written by a 19-year-old who said she was raped as a freshman and bullied by the university and others not to press criminal charges, has turned into a powder keg of emotions.
The student, Lexie Brackenridge, wrote the column for the Williams Record on May 14. Some of the most damning information includes:
My fears were substantiated during the spring, when I was repeatedly harassed by members of the team and friends of my rapist. In one instance, they surrounded me, threw full beer cans at my head and chanted that I should have kept my mouth shut. When I spoke to the deans about the incident, I was told that everyone was “exhausted” from dealing with the case and that perhaps it would be better if we all just “took a little break.” Members of the men’s hockey team and my rapist’s friends continued to harass me for months on campus. I received no “break.”
Brackenridge has since transferred to New York’s Columbia University. An online petition has been started by Williams’ students demanding the school change its procedures for investigating sexual assault cases. At last count it had gathered 650 signatures, while alumni of the college have vowed to withhold donations until the truth comes out and changes are made.