Thursday, April 18, 2013

Swarthmore Students File Complaint Over Sexual Assault Reporting

Twelve undergraduate students at Swarthmore College filed a complaint with the Department of Education, alleging that the college inadequately addressed known reports of sexual assault, including by failing to report them as required by law.

The Daily Swarthmore lists the specific allegations as follows:
1. Discouraging students from reporting crime to local law enforcement and from going through formal judiciary proceedings
2. Persistently underreporting incidents of sexual battery, sexual assault, and rape in the Annual Clery Security Report
3. Persistently underreporting incidents of sexual battery, sexual assault, and rape in the daily crime log
4. Failing to issue timely reports of incidents of sexual battery, sexual assault, and rape
5. Failing to publicly report potential sanctions for sexual battery, sexual assault, and rape
6. Intimidating, discriminating, and retaliating against sexual assault and rape survivors and their advocates
Several of these allegations -- 1, 5, and 6, at least -- are violations of Title IX, while the others -- 2, 3, and 4 -- are violations of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.  The Department of Education has jurisdiction over both statutes.

If this complaint reminds you of the allegations against UNC, there's a reason for that.  The Swarthmore complainants reportedly consulted with Andrea Pino and Annie Clark, the students who filed the complaint that is pending against their university on similar charges. (The complaint is still pending, though UNC is reported this week to have begun to address some the charges by hiring a Title IX Coordinator.)  In fact, as also reported in the New York Times, undergraduates at UNC, Amherst, Yale, and other colleges have been collaborating about strategies to expose and address campus sexual assault.  By taking concerted action against and within their respective universities, these students are exposing a national epidemic that has been ignored for too long.