CREDIT: Yale University
According to Yale University’s most recent sexual misconduct report, none of the six students who were found guilty of “nonconsensual sex” in the first half of 2013 were kicked out of school. Rape prevention advocates are disappointed that, even after Yale recently faced multiple federal investigations into its sexual assault policies, the administration is still failing to hand out serious punishments for sexual crimes.
Of the six Yale students who were found guilty of committing sexual assault, just one was suspended. Four others were simply given written reprimands, and one of them was also required to attend a “gender sensitivity” training. One student was placed on probation. The student who was temporarily suspended from Yale will be allowed to return to campus after two semesters.
In an interview with Jezebel, a Yale student pointed out it’s clear that the university’s sexual assault policy still isn’t sufficient. “It’s really irresponsible [for Yale] to let known perpetrators of rape stay on campus alongside the survivor and alongside other students who could potentially be victimized in the future,” Hannah Slater said. “They’re not making the campus a safer place.”
Yale isn’t alone. Across the country, universities’ lenient sexual assault policies allow rapists to escape serious punishment. Students found guilty of sexual assault often are required to write an essay about their experiences, or face light academic or social probation. In some cases, even repeat offenders don’t necessarily get kicked off campus. Over the past year, the pressure has intensified, as a network of college activists have joined forces to ask university administrations to fix their persistent rape cultures.
Some colleges are taking steps to amend their policies. Duke University recently agreed to stiffen its penalty for sexual assault, amending its student code of conduct to clarify that students who are found guilty of sexual assault will always be expelled.
Alexandra Brodsky, a Yale graduate who filed a federal complaint against the university that led to a 2011 investigation, told the Huffington Post she is disappointed that so little has changed at the elite school. She wishes the Department of Education had cracked down harder on Yale. “It’s so, so frustrating to have reported to the school, been let down by the school, brought it to the federal government and then get let down by the federal government,” Brodsky said.
Yale was fined $165,000 this year for a 2001 violation of Title IX, the gender equity law that requires college administrations to deal with sexual assault cases. Just this week, the Department of Education reduced that fine by $10,000. The government concluded a later investigation into Yale’s sexual assault policy by opting not to penalize the university at all.
Blotsky isn’t the only activist who feels that the Department of Education hasn’t cracked down firmly enough on the administrations that face Title IX violations. Last month, students rallied outside of the department’s headquarters, demanding stricter enforcement of Title IX so that colleges won’t be able to continue to let rapists get away with their crimes.
Brodsky pointed out that student advocates “really need” the Education Department to get serious about enforcing Title IX, and better about punishing college administrations that are continually falling short. “No wonder Yale is behaving this way,” Brodsky said. “It’s gotten away with these violations so far, why would it think it needs to do better?”