On Tuesday, the New York Times reported an inspiring story about the increasingly collaborative effort by college students to combat their own institutions’ lackadaisical responses to sexual assault.
We blogged in January about the Department of Education complaint filed by students and a former administrator at the University of North Carolina. Those students were working with Amherst College undergraduates already involved in raising awareness of the way sexual assault is handled on their campus. (In 2012, an Amherst student took his own life, and his suicide note specifically decried the lack of support he was offered when he reported being assaulted.)
The Times this week pointed out that the Amherst group, in turn, received help from Yale students. A nationwide collaboration may be in the works, but the “informal national network” has already been effective:
The victims’ advocates have talked of creating a formal national organization, but much of their success so far stems from their use of modern media, allowing them to connect, collect information and draw attention in a way that would have been impossible a few years ago.
Both victims and those accused of assault agree that colleges’ responses to sexual assault are lacking, although for different reasons:
Activists contend that colleges fall short in educating students about sexual assault, encouraging victims to seek help, counseling survivors, reporting the frequency of such crimes, and training the people who investigate and adjudicate cases. Advocates for people brought up on charges tend to agree that campus disciplinary systems are amateurish, but they contend that the result is inadequate protection for the rights of the accused.
The Harman Firm is actively working toward safer learning environments for university students. We have and continue to represent college students in lawsuits against colleges, universities, and professors for sexual harassment and other types of extremely offensive and inappropriate conduct (sexual assault, discrimination, etc.). (See coverage in the Daily News).
It has become all too apparent that ongoing and extreme harassment can lead to tragic events on campus, such as suicide and shootings. The core issue: university staff are woefully under-trained to deal with these situations. Or as a Boston NPR website had it: “Deans Are Out Of Their Depth.”
If you have questions about harassment in your workplace and the damages you may be owed, contact The Harman Firm today, and check out the short video below: Walker Harman explains how compensation is determined in college sexual harassment cases.