NEW YORK (AP) — Women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred joined students from four U.S. colleges and universities on Wednesday to announce the filing of federal complaints over how the higher-education institutions handle rape allegations.
Students who attended the New York news conference said the colleges and universities had not taken their rape complaints seriously.
Tucker Reed, a sophomore at the University of Southern California, said she was raped by a fellow student and when she brought the matter to the attention of the person charged with investigating sexual misconduct she was told she “should not expect them to punish my rapist — that their process was educative, not punitive.”
Allred said complaints were filed Wednesday against UC Berkeley, USC, Swarthmore College, and Dartmouth College.
“We are asking the Department of Education to open an investigation into these complaints and take appropriate actions to force these colleges to comply with the law or risk losing their federal funding,” she said in a statement.
Swarthmore student Hope Brinn said survivors of sexual assault “are left feeling alone, misunderstood and irrational.”
“The treatment is not only unethical, it is also against the law,” Brinn said.
The Associated Press does not usually identify people who say they are victims of sexual assaults unless they agree to be named or identify themselves publicly, as Reed and Brinn have done.
Allred said the complaints filed Wednesday included Title IX complaints alleging a hostile environment for women and complaints under the federal Clery Act, which requires accurate reporting of campus crimes.
Complaints were filed earlier against another Southern California college and a North Carolina university.
Representatives for UC Berkeley, Dartmouth, Swarthmore, and USC said they hadn’t seen the complaints and could not comment on the specifics of them.
But Carl Marziali, assistant vice president for media and public relations at USC, said the university “takes all reports of sexual violence extremely seriously and has many resources available to assist students who experience unwanted sexual contact.”
“Any student victim of a crime has the option of reporting it to the Los Angeles Police Department,” Marziali said.
And Swarthmore College’s president, Rebecca Chopp, said the “physical and emotional” safety of its students is its highest priority.
“We are dedicated to not only being in total compliance with Title IX and the Clery Act but to setting the standard for compliance for higher education in this country,” Chopp said.