Columbia University has decided to answer its critics about how sexual assault cases are handled at the school. In order to do this the university announced that it has plans to deal with the sexual assault issues by creating a second rape-crisis center on the campus. In order to make sure their students are taken care of, it will add staff to help the university “deal with the issues of sexual assault and related misconduct.”
In the announcement, Columbia University‘s President Lee Bollinger announced that the school also plans to add Title IX investigators on the campus to create a new position for student affairs. This will help to oversee any and all sexual assault cases that take place at the university.
This of course comes after weeks of being under criticism for how Columbia University handles the issue of sexual assault and days after the White House launched their own PSA about sexual assault.
Back in April students of Columbia filed a Title IX complaint claiming that their reports of sexual assault weren’t handled properly. Adding to that, a student with access to three campus buildings wrote on the walls the names of four students who were repeated sexual offenders.
Zoe Starr, one of the twenty-three students that launched the federal complaint against the school, told ABC news of the problem within Columbia University:
“People feel so scared and so desperate that they’re turning to scrawling warnings to other students on bathroom walls.”
The statistics surrounding sexual assault are eye-opening. According to a White House task house force, one out of five female college students were sexually assaulted.
In the midst of the controversy, Columbia University released a statement to ABC News:
“To avoid chilling complainants from coming forward and to respect all parties involved, the university does not comment on the particulars of disciplinary proceedings regarding sexual misconduct.”
Starr admitted that she thinks the postings around the campus brought the issue to light and forced Columbia University officials to not only listen but take action.
“One thing that the list has done is to raise the stakes and really convey the desperation and urgency that people feel,” Starr said.
A junior at Columbia University, Emma Sulkowicz — another student that joined the federal case and a face to a name — explained the fight she’s had to be a part of.
Of her time before the disciplinary panel Sulkowicz said:
“The fact that I had to tell an embarrassing story and then teach them an embarrassing subject on top of that felt really gross.”
[Image by Kiera Wood/Columbia Daily Spectator]