Trigger warning for discussion of rape and rape culture.
After a year of therapy and learning how to properly file a complaint, Tucker Reed went into the University of Southern California’s Department of Public Safety, or DPS, to report a rape that occurred in 2010. In her possession were four audio taped confessions from her former boyfriend, fully admitting he had raped her. Instead of taking immediate action or even contacting the Los Angeles police department, a USC official told her “the goal was not to ‘punish’ her assailant, but rather to offer an ‘educative’ process.” Reed’s case was dismissed, tossed aside by a three sentence email informing her that her alleged assailant was “forced to confess” and that they had “had consensual sex.”
“Rape is not an educative experience,” Reed said. “It is a crushing, life-altering, inhuman violence.”
Another student at USC, who wishes to remain anonymous, reported a sexual assault to the school’s Dept. of Public Safety after she was raped at a fraternity event. Once again the Dept. failed miserably at providing a legitimate investigation and did not contact the proper authorities. Instead, an officer with the DPS told the traumatized student that “women should not go out, get drunk and expect not to be raped.” Yet another student at USC reported being raped but was turned away by a campus police officer. Her and a friend were told “because he stopped, it was not rape. Even though his penis penetrated your vagina, because he stopped, it was not a crime.”
Ariella Mostov also admits that officials completely ignored her sexual assault. Not only did they ignore her complaint, but Mostov was shocked when she was forced to sit in class with her assailant for a full semester, after denying her permission to transfer out of the class. Only after her assailant was allowed to graduate did Mostov not have to face her attacker every day.
While the University of Southern California certainly seems to be the epicenter of this blatant disregard for sexual assault victims, sadly, these experiences are being repeated all over the country at several different Ivy League schools. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has launched a federal investigation to determine if these schools, including UC Berkely, Dartmouth, Harvard, Yale, Notre Dame, Occidental College, Swarthmore, University of North Carolina and Amherst, are in compliance with the Clery Act and Title IX.
The Clery Act is a federal law that mandates the accurate tracking and public disclosure of crime statistics on campus, including sex offenses. Title IX is a federal civil rights law prohibiting sexual discrimination in educational institutes that receive financial aid from the United States. Unfortunately, according to the National Institute of Justice, nearly two in three schools don’t follow the anti-violence laws.
There are well over 100 similar stories from other students and even eleven incidents of LGBTQ discrimination and hate crimes at Dartmouth alone. After getting sick and tired of the victim blaming and being ignored, Tucker Reed and Ariella Mostov founded SCAR, the Student Coalition Against Rape. In response to over a dozen Title IX complaints by USC students, the Dept. of Education started an inquiry on June 26th, which has now grown into the federal investigation of the other higher education facilities. However, most students aren’t very optimistic about the outcome.
“Colleges and universities have a disincentive to be upfront about rape allegations made on their campuses. If the number of such incidents got out, critics suggest, colleges could have a PR nightmare on their hands — one that could be costly come enrollment time. The first wave of colleges that tell the truth about rates of rape and sexual assault on campus will take a hit with admissions,” Occidental’s Caroline Heldman says.
With an inexcusable track record hanging over their heads, it’s not far-fetched to believe that most colleges are more worried about endowments and admissions than the safety and well being of their female* students.
You can sign SCAR’s petition to the Department of Education here!
*inclusive of all, whether they female identify or not