JUSTICE FOR SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE AT THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
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My name is Aniqa Raihan. I am a second semester senior at the George Washington University and a survivor of sexual assault. It took me two and a half years to build up the courage to report my rapist, but I finally did in the Fall of 2016. I went through a long and deeply uncomfortable hearing in December and finally heard back from GW on March 24, 2017--95 days later. Mark Favorito was found responsible for committing an act of sexual violence and received a "deferred suspension." This means that if he attends two meetings with the university's Title IX coordinator and does not enter student dormitories for the next two months, he will graduate alongside me in May. There is no judicial procedure to appeal this lenient sanction and Peter Konwerski, Vice Provost and Dean of Student Affairs, declined to meet with me to discuss the situation.
The recommended minimum sanction for students who commit sexual violence is one year's suspension. This is not justice.
The worst part of this process has been the knowledge that I am not alone. According to the 2015 GW climate survey, 13% of the student body experienced unwanted sexual behavior. Only 9% reported their experiences and of those who did, 50% felt that GW failed to deliver justice. For over 10,000 students, GW is supposed to serve as a safe haven in which minds are enriched and horizons are expanded. The students of GW deserve to feel safe in their communities. We deserve to feel protected and prioritized by the administration. We deserve this always, but it is especially important that GW affirm its commitment to survivors now.
The sitting President of the United States and his administration have made it clear that sexual violence is not an issue they take seriously. Undocumented women are dropping rape and domestic violence cases rather than risk becoming known to ICE. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men will be sexually assaulted during college. Now is the time for GW to set an example. We as students and allies call on GW to stand against misogyny, against rape culture, against rapists and with survivors.
We, the undersigned, demand that the George Washington University:
- Expel Mark Favorito, effective immediately;
- Implement mandatory suspensions for students who are found responsible for acts of sexual violence UNTIL THE SURVIVOR GRADUATES, with the possibility of higher sanctions INCLUDING EXPULSION in cases involving aggravated circumstances or repeat offenders while retaining the option of an informal resolution for survivors who wish to pursue justice in a form different or lesser than suspension;
- Provide weekly updates to survivors as they move through the university's reporting and judicial process;
- Commit to passing judgement on cases involving sexual violence in under two calendar months, as recommended by the U.S. Office for Civil Rights, and amend the Code of Student Conduct to reflect this commitment; and
- Provide survivors with the opportunity to appeal not only the outcome of their cases, but the sanctions as well, and create a separate appellate board to hear these appeals. This option is available to survivors at Georgetown, American, and Howard Universities, and should be made available to survivors at GW as well.
4/21 - New demands:
- Terminate Mark Favorito's employment at the Lerner Health and Wellness Center as his presence threatens the safety and well-being of both staff and student survivors, and mandate that all students found responsible for acts of sexual violence be terminated from on-campus jobs; and
- Remove Gabriel Slifka from his role as Director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities for his history of mishandling sexual violence cases and negligence toward survivors' needs.
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