A group of emotionally-charged students filed complaints with the federal government alleging a pattern of mishandling sexual assault claims by Columbia University and Barnard College. Twenty-three students signed on to three separate complaints which allege mistreatment of victims by the University. They claim Columbia and Barnard have violated various federal laws
The complaints claim that University administrators pressure students not to report sexual assault or harassment, and victims are told to not discuss their cases outside the confines of the campus disciplinary process. They also say disciplinary hearings are handled by underqualified and ill-trained individuals.
“Perpetrators are allowed to reschedule the hearing multiple, multiple times, and survivors are not,” she said, “so we’ve seen cases where perpetrators who delay so long those survivors are forced to stay over the summer for a hearing and pay for housing.”
According to those who filed the complaints, students found guilty of sexual assault by the University are rarely expelled. Instead, they face punishments such as being suspended for a semester.
The Office of Civil Rights will decide whether to investigate the complaints. Such investigations are often resolved by the school agreeing to change its policies and procedures. Columbia pledged earlier this year to overhaul its policies regarding sexual misconduct at the University.
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