Friday, April 25, 2014

Columbia University Named in Complaint

Twenty-three students at Columbia University have joined together to file a 100+ page complaint with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, alleging numerous violations by the University of the Title IX, the Clery Act, and parts of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Borrowing from bullet-point summary posted here, the individual stories contained in the complaint amount to allegations along the following lines:

  • Survivors and alleged perpetrators are consistently treated unequally;
  • Survivors are often discouraged from formally reporting;
  • Perpetrators, who are often serial offenders, are consistently allowed to remain on campus.
  • Inadequate disciplinary sanctions for perpetrators are commonplace, if they are disciplined at all;
  • Survivors, student activists and journalists are retaliated against for speaking out about Columbia’s mishandling of sexual violence;
  • Survivors and other students are discriminated against and denied accommodations based on mental health disability, including PTSD and depression;
  • LGBTQ students face discrimination in counseling, advising, adjudication, & Greek life;
  • Students are not notified of crimes which present a threat to campus as they should be under the Clery Act.
For its part, Columbia has not responded to the specifics of the complaint (which it has not yet seen) but avers that it has "been working with students, faculty and staff to make that emphatically clear on our campus and have already taken the first of a series of significant new measures dedicated to preventing such sexual misconduct, supporting survivors, and improving adjudication of these painful cases."

These types of allegations are similar to other complaints filed against numerous other colleges and universities in the past year.