On Thursday November 14, federal complaints were filed against both Vanderbilt and Amherst – two schools that have had highly-publicized, ghastly rape cases in the past year – alleging that the college administrations both mishandled reports of sexual assault and permitted a hostile sexual environment to flourish on campus. This comes on the heels of a Title IX complaint filed against UConn by seven students and former students earlier this month. Finally, thankfully, deeply necessarily, colleges are being held accountable for their willful ignorance and neglect of a campus sexual assault problem that’s reached epidemic proportions. But what has galvanized and empowered so many students to take such seemingly daunting legal action?
As Dana Bolger and John Kelly point out at Feministing, a major problem with the Department of Education (ED)’s Title IX enforcement is the lack of transparency. Because the ED doesn’t publish a list of schools under investigation, the status of those investigations and the results of previous investigations, students are unaware of past and present complaints. “As a result, it’s difficult — if not impossible — for current students to determine consistent patterns of administrative negligence and incompetence, thereby diminishing their ability to point out systemic institutional failure,” they write. “It’s isolating, leaving victims feeling ‘crazy’ and alone, unaware that others have suffered the same institutional mistreatment, often at the hands of the very same administrators.”
ED Act Now team and allies is a now defunct group of Education Activists, asking the Department of Education to hold colleges accountable that break the law by refusing to protect students from sexual assault. As part of Blue Grizzlies 9-point Freedom Schools Initiative, we will continue to carry the banner