On Wednesday, the Columbia University College Democrats launched a petition to demand that the Columbia and Barnard Administrations make their response to sexual assault and harassment on campus transparent and accountable. The CU Dems are asking for information about the prevalence of assaults on campus, how Columbia and Barnard adjudicate and punish rape and sexual assaults, and the ways in which Public Safety Officers are trained to handle reports of sexual assault. We are doing this in order to ensure that the students and the Columbia community can hold the administration accountable for protecting the safety of students.

We are specifically demanding that Columbia and Barnard release data on:

  • what portion of accused assailants are found guilty
  • what types of punishments those found guilty of rape or sexual assaults on campus receive
  • what guidelines Columbia and Barnard have for sanctions and punishments
  • how often punishments are altered or repealed
  • the typical length of time it takes for a reported case to be adjudicated
  • what Columbia estimates the true number of sexual assaults and rapes on campus to be
  • and how Public Safety officers are trained to respond to sexual assault and support survivors

We are only asking anonymous and aggregated data about the number and type of assaults and instances of harassment, which will not include any information that could identify either survivors or perpetrators. The publication of anonymous data by colleges and law enforcement agencies is routine, and there are clear guidelines governing it. Under Title IX, the Clery Act, and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act the administration is actually legally forbidden from giving out any information that could be used to identify victims and survivors.

While we have contacted administrators in the Office of Gender Based Misconduct and at the Rape Crisis Center, we have yet to receive the information we need and were sometimes only given meetings weeks after we requested them. This information needs to be available without delay – as many as one in four women attending college are assaulted during their 4 years on campus and men and gender nonconforming students also face frighteningly high rates of assault. At dozens of other colleges and universities students have found administrators are more concerned with their PR than with student safety – we need to make sure that this isn’t the case at Columbia.

The Administration needs to know that the Columbia community demands transparency and accountability and that these issues are vitally important for the safety and wellbeing of every person on campus. Students are already hugely concerned with this issue. In less than 20 hours since we launched the petition it has received over 200 signatures from students and alumni – but we need more.

It is unacceptable for Columbia to keep students in the dark on issues vital to their safety and wellbeing. We ask that the entire Columbia and Barnard community join us in demanding that the administration release this information now, and annually in the future.Sign the petition. Share it with your friends, classmates, and professors. Demand accountability and transparency about sexual assault on campus.

The petition is available at: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1KPKXPC-HnNo0zYQFHRjaloivrvMJVdyUt-355ttaJHw/viewform

If your or your groups is intersted in supportingor endorsing the petition drive or for any questions contact the CU Dems Board at dems@columbia.edu


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