Justice for Maya Garcia & Title IX Enforcement at Virginia Tech

Justice for Maya Garcia & Title IX Enforcement at Virginia Tech

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Maria Gilbert started this petition to Student Affairs Virginia Tech and

Jan. 19, 2018, was Maya Garcia’s 21st birthday party. She was celebrating, drinking and dancing at a friend’s apartment. The night ended, however, in Garcia allegedly being sexually assaulted by another Virginia Tech student. She then pursued several avenues seeking healing and justice, but ultimately felt wronged by the criminal justice system and Virginia Tech.

In the days following the assault, Garcia took several steps to protect herself.

She received a Physical Evidence Recovery Kit (PERK) exam at the hospital, which showed that she had abrasions on her left nipple and purple bruising on her leg and lip.

She reported the incident to the Blacksburg Police Department; however, the Commonwealth declined prosecution.

Although she could not specifically discuss Garcia’s case, in an emailed statement to the Collegiate Times, Montgomery County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt explained key differences between the criminal justice system and the student code of conduct system used by Virginia Tech, namely differences in the definition of rape and the standards of proof used by the two systems.

“The fact that we cannot proceed with criminal charges does not mean that the allegations did not happen,” Pettitt wrote. “It simply means that the allegations were not violations of the criminal code or that the burden of proof required is too great to overcome.”

Finally, Garcia filed a Title IX complaint regarding the assault to Virginia Tech’s Office for Equity and Accessibility.

Ultimately, Garcia was unhappy with the Title IX process and the sanctions the respondent received. So, she appealed.

One of the primary reasons that Garcia filed a student conduct appeal was on the grounds that the time from filing the complaint to learning that her appeal had been denied was, in her words, “traumatically long,” taking around 120 days. Garcia’s appeal, however, was not granted.

“You have the right to a prompt, adequate, reliable, and impartial Title IX investigation of the complaint and the United States Office for Civil Rights in the United States Department of Education presumes a typical investigation may be completed within 60 calendar days following receipt of the complaint.”

Garcia says in a Facebook post, "After a Student Conduct hearing, the assailant was found responsible for rape, but he was not expelled. He was given a 4 semester suspension and a short list of tasks, such as completing a workbook and attending 2 meetings with my Student Conduct Hearing officer, Rohsaan Settle. After reporting it to the police, the DA officer did not think I was strong enough to withstand the long judicial process and minimized my experience stating it was not a crime. Rape is a crime."

We are calling for justice to be amply served and for Maya Garcia's rapist to be expelled. We are also calling for Title IX reform so that students are no longer afraid to report in fear of situations just like Garcia's. Virginia Tech says that "This is Home" but how can VT be home when there are convicted rapists walking around. Virginia Tech no longer is "home" but hunting grounds. 

See Garcia's full post here : https://www.facebook.com/maya.garcia.79230/posts/3543014099044654

See the Collegiate Times article here (phrasing for this petition provided by article) http://www.collegiatetimes.com/news/rapists-should-be-expelled/article_53c50696-1dbf-11e9-9727-7beb00b3cd94.html#:~:text=%E2%80%9CRapists%2C%E2%80%9D%20Garcia%20said%2C,during%20the%20student%20conduct%20process.%E2%80%9D&text=Interim%20Director%20for%20Student%20Conduct,rape%20resulting%20in%20automatic%20expulsion

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!