As those who read my posts may already know, I am an avid reader of the Chronicle of Higher Education. The Chronicle is a type of digital newspaper covering the world of college and graduate schools nationwide.
This morning I read an article that scandalized me. The title of the article is “A Student Is Expelled After Multiple Sexual-Assault Accusations. Could the University Have Stopped Him Sooner?” The author of this piece is Sarah Brown. I received this edition on June 17. It was submitted for publication on June 14. Ms Brown did a marvelous job reporting this story. My post, on the other hand, is not objective. I’m a commentator, not a journalist.
The story covers the plight of victims left forever damaged by a serial rapist. The school is Marshall University in West Virginia. The time frame is 2016 – 2018.
The perpetrator was initially “found responsible for sexual assault in 2016.” He appealed this charge and was let back onto the campus in 2017. There he “allegedly” committed “two more sexual assaults in 2018.”
Title IX is supposed to protect students (as a civil rights and anti-discrimination law) by making sexual harassment and assault a form of sex discrimination.
Apparently Title IX struggles for enforcement as perpetrators call for due process. As a lay person, I can see the problem. Due process protects individuals against false accusations. We are, after all, a nation in which one is presumed innocent until proven guilty. On the other hand, by Title IX women are protected by law against the fear of sexual assault and, in the case of assault are provided legal remedies. In legalese I think this is considered a type of he said/she said argument.
In this case, the perpetrator is still free and on campus while the victim has left the university for fear of her safety. She has a federal lawsuit filed that claims school officials “mishandled the disciplinary proceedings.”
Being a survivor of rape myself and not receiving the protection from the perpetrator, I have intense opinions that a victim needs to have sufficient protection from further assault and needs to have access to much needed social services AND needs to be able to continue her/his goals free of repercussions. In other words, the victim that has since left the university should be adequately protected so as to allow her to pursue her education at Marshall University. As it is, he’s still there. She’s gone elsewhere.
The law has failed to protect her while the perpetrator is free on appeal.
I may have this legally wrong, I’m not a lawyer, but this is how it looks and feels to me.