Fire Karen Salvemini and End Lehigh's Abuse of Title IX

Fire Karen Salvemini and End Lehigh's Abuse of Title IX

573 have signed. Let’s get to 1,000!

Why this petition matters

Started by Brian Lucas

Lehigh University has been negligent in its duties to protect and uplift its students. The university has failed to comply with Title IX guidelines as they are federally mandated by the US Department of Education, and has repeatedly and systematically silenced the voices of students that have experienced instances of gender-based discrimination and sexual misconduct. When a student experiences sexual harassment or gender-based violence, they are often involuntarily directed to the Title IX Office, which masquerades as a campus resource to help survivors. What they don't realize is that the office is designed to stifle and suppress survivors from seeking justice, and often leaves victims worse off than where they started.

Lehigh has placed its image and reputation above the health and mental well-being of its students. They have understaffed and underfunded the Title IX Office, allowing the sole coordinator for the office to double as a member of the Office of General Counsel, a body that acts as legal representation for the university. This acts in violation of Title IX, which states that schools must  “Require Title IX personnel (Title IX Coordinators, investigators, decision-makers, people who facilitate any informal resolution process) to be free from conflicts of interest or bias for or against complainants or respondents.” 

They have failed to provide survivors with support and empathy when handling cases, and regularly take weeks to reply to emails from survivors and those in need of assistance. The university fails to report criminal activity to the general student body in a timely manner, as required by the Clery Act, in favor of preserving its reputation, which leads to a gross misrepresentation of the issue of sexual assault on campus. Lehigh uses the Crime Log to discuss ongoing instances of sexual assault and rape rather than informing the public via email. We demand reformation, justice, and retribution on the part of Lehigh University. 

These reforms include:

  1. Publishing a coherent and reasonable timeline for any and all changes made to the office.
  2. Firing Karen Salvemini for gross criminal negligence, and hiring an entirely new staff within that office immediately. The new staff should hold positions outside of the office of general counsel. The new staff should also consist of multiple individuals, each with relevant work experience outside of Lehigh University.
  3. Releasing the budget of the Title IX and Equal Opportunity Compliance Office and subjecting it to public scrutiny, as well as the LUPD budget and related student support services.
  4. Appointing an unbiased independent investigator to investigate the Title IX Office. This includes but is not limited to investigating all interactions between the office and students (who consent to their information being viewed confidentially), as well as the Lehigh Crime Log and all campus-wide emails. Initial findings of the investigation should be published in a timely manner, of no more than 60 days.
  5. Retroactively editing the Lehigh crime statistics to reflect findings in the independent investigation and compliance with the Clery Act, for which the university has been under federal investigation.
  6. Investigating any Title IX complaints made in the case of Dr. Thomas Novak.
  7. Investigating the whereabouts of Karen Salvemini, as she was frequently noted to be absent from campus, further impeding her ability to do her job.
  8. Issuing a campus-wide statement informing the students of all intended changes, and holding a public town hall where students can give input.
  9. Having campus groups like Break the Silence and the Center for Gender Equity provide input and resources to survivors on campus.
  10. Altering Lehigh’s mandatory reporting policy to reflect the changes in the Title IX Office. Properly and effectively inform mandatory reporters as to the scope of their responsibilities.
  11. Hiring more LU advocates.
  12. Issuing a formal apology to all in the Lehigh community who have been harmed by Lehigh’s negligence.
573 have signed. Let’s get to 1,000!