Columbia and Barnard: Bring Transparency To Campus Assault

To be delivered to: The Columbia University Office of Student Services of Gender-Based Misconduct; The Title IX Coordinators for Columbia University and Barnard College; The Columbia University Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action. This text represents the beliefs of the Columbia University Democrats, as student advocates for the communities of Columbia College, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Barnard College, and the School of General Studies and has been circulated among the student body as a petition as of Wednesday, October 9th, 2013.

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We, the undersigned, call upon the above-mentioned offices of Columbia University and Barnard College to disclose information on the number, nature, and judicial resolution of cases of sexual assault, rape, and gender-based misconduct which are reported to University officials and involve students of Columbia University and Barnard College.

Department of Justice reports and independent research have repeatedly estimated that approximately 20 to 25% of women and 4% of men attending college are sexually assaulted during their years on campus; additional research has led to even higher estimates for the LGBTQ student population. Recent scandals at Amherst, USC, Notre Dame, and Occidental (among many, many others) have revealed the shocking failure of colleges and universities across the country to prevent assaults on campus – or to fairly, compassionately, and promptly address charges of sexual assault and rape which are reported to them.

In light of this, Columbia and Barnard students have become increasingly concerned by the lack of information surrounding our own campuses policies and procedures for adjudicating claims of gender-based misconduct. Thus, we ask that Columbia University and Barnard College, while giving due respect to the privacy of concerned individuals under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), make publicly available the following anonymous, aggregated information: the number and nature of sexual assaults, rapes, and incidents of gender-based harassment and misconduct reported to Columbia University and Barnard College, the estimated true number of such cases which occur on the campuses or during the programs of Columbia University and Barnard College, or which occurred off-campus but have created a hostile environment on same, the number of such cases which are addressed with judicial proceedings, the number of such cases which end in informal resolution, the number and nature of interim measures taken, the number of such cases in which the accused are found guilty by University hearing panels and the sanctions recommended by same, the selection process for student representatives on University hearing panels, the sanctions as actually applied by the Deans of Students of the undergraduate schools, the average number of days before such cases are resolved, and the content and frequency of training provided to Public Safety Officers in addressing reports of sexual assault per year for the preceding 5 years.

We demand that Columbia University and Barnard College bring transparency to the issue of assault on campus.

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Feel free to contact the Columbia University Democrats with questions at dems@columbia.edu.

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