Times is Up Randolph: Address Incidents of Sexual Assault

Times is Up Randolph: Address Incidents of Sexual Assault

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Time is Up Randolph started this petition to Randolph College and

You’ll never find rape advertised in a glossy college brochure. Yet the past two years have brought a deluge of evidence that sexual violence is a staple of U.S. higher education, with one in five women -- and a number of men -- suffering rape during their time in college. 

More than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the incident. As a result, 91% of colleges in 2014 reported zero incidences of rape. It is clear that there is a lack of proper reporting and resilient protocol regarding sexual assault cases in many colleges and universities, in part due to treating instances of sexual assault as a PR problem, rather than a civil rights and public safety issue.

Over the course of the past few weeks, several victims came forwards, detailing personal experiences of sexual assault which occurred at Randolph College. One must understanding the courage, power, and bravery it requires for a victim to come forward, and push themselves to experience flashbacks and distress-- all in the name of bringing justice to others. While the college responded with two email messages, the responses were not enough. These responses were not followed up by any proper action to address, and potentially bring resolution to, the victims. Instead, the college made generic promises to ensure continuity of sexual-assault prevention measures, and re-stressed the existence of a proper system to address these issues.

This kind of shortcoming can be detrimental to the victims, and may in fact give a message to future assailants: so long as you are 'smart' about your offense, you will be fineThis is deeply insulting to the victims, and would foster a socially-torn, unsafe, environment for education. Bearing that in mind, we believe that change should come from within the college leadership. Above all, this change must be tangible, effective, and comprehensive beyond graduation. We are not only demanding an apology, or an official statement; we want action. Our key demands are summarized as follows:

  1. Policies and procedures must be clear, readable, and accurate; information must be widely disseminated and readily accessible to all members of the campus community; and materials must include descriptive (operational) definitions of sexual assault, rape, and other forms of sexual violence, explaining why these actions violate acceptable standards of conduct and, in some cases, constitute criminal offenses. Potential campus and criminal penalties should be made equally clear.
  2. The reporting of sexual assault is essential for accurate record keeping and to prevent repeat offenses. Given the widespread underreporting of sexual assault, reporting should be facilitated as much as possible—for example, by providing for direct reporting by name, confidential reporting, and anonymous reporting. 
  3. In an effort to improve the likelihood of bringing perpetrators to justice, it is proposed to lower the standard of proof in disciplinary proceedings involving sexual assault. Replacing the prevailing standard of “clear and convincing evidence” with a “preponderance-of-the-evidence” standard would help level the playing field for victims of sexual violence. 
  4. Recent educational projects aimed at “bystand­ers” may sound casual or unlikely to succeed. In fact, such projects are aimed at the peers and peer groups of potential perpetrators and potential victims and thus may provide significant education to the campus community and have an impact on the larger campus culture.
  5. Expand the scope of the college's investigative efforts-- through legal means-- beyond graduation. This may include dedicating resources through the Title IX coordination office, allowing current or past students to report sexual assault cases (which were committed by a current student or an alumni). 

It is our shared responsibility to ensure that our campus is safe, and that our motto does not contradict our actions. It is our responsibility to remind the victims that we stand with them, we embrace them, we recognize the extreme seriousness of their experiences, and that we will fight with them. The freedom to teach and to learn is inseparable from the maintenance of a safe and hospitable learning environment. Finally, we will continue to voice our concerns and take part in changing, and reshaping, the campus culture and policies through all proper and legal means. 

Please stand with us and with all survivors who have been denied their civil right to justice and safety in education, by adding your signature below. Together we can show the president and the trustees that we’re going to keep fighting until every single student can go to school without fear.

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