Students File Federal Complaints Against Columbia University for Allegedly Mishandling Rape Cases

Allie Jones
The Atlantic Wire
Students File Federal Complaints Against Columbia University for Allegedly Mishandling Rape Cases

Just one day after Columbia University's dining services presented students with a sexual violence awareness cake, 23 students have filed Title IX, Title II, and Clery complaints against the university for mishandling rape cases. According to the press release

Students allege that the university has failed to comply with federal laws to ensure equal access to education, respond adequately to reports of sexual assault, and provide accommodations based on disability status.

The students claim that "survivors and alleged perpetrators are consistently treated unequally" on campus, "survivors are often discouraged from formally reporting, and "perpetrators, who are often serial offenders, are consistently allowed to remain on campus." Students at various universities nationwide echo these complaints — Harvard students filed their own Title IX complaint against their school earlier this month. 

Columbia students also allege that university officials are woefully behind on recognizing different gender identities. One student writes that the university showed "general ignorance and hostility towards my gender identity… even [the] dismissal of my rape because it didn’t fit the normative ‘boy-rapes-girl’ narrative." 

The students are still collecting stories, so other victims have the chance to come forward. Two of the women who have joined the complaints, Emma Sulkowicz and Zoe Ridolfi-Starr, spoke at a press conference with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand earlier this month. Both Gillibrand and Sen. Claire McCaskill have been leading efforts to curb sexual assault on campus

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