Sometimes you read some news that is so ridiculous you simply cannot believe it is true. This is one of those times. Students at Occidental College in Los Angeles have filed a federal complaint that the school has failed to take the reporting of sex crimes seriously by improper reporting and in some cases even cover-ups. In one case, an alleged rapist was made to write a five page book report for his actions. A five-page book report? For rape? I’m confused.
The Huffington Post reports:
Even when the school’s investigations have found wrongdoing, punishment has been light, the complaint says. One student found responsible for raping a woman was given the punishment of writing a five-page book report, according to the complaint.
“I’ve seen some of the outputs of these so-called ‘educational sanctions’ like book reports and apology letters and they’re abysmal,” said Danielle Dirks, a sociology professor who specializes in crime and punishment and one of the women who filed the complaint. “The fact that Occidental has invited rapists back to campus and even told survivors not to worry because ‘he’s reformed now’ after these types of inadequate sanctions is an abomination.”
The women who filed the complaint have been pushing the college to revise their sexual assault policies for six years. Women who started to draw attention to the flaws in the college’s sexual violence policies were accused of “actively seeking to embarrass the college.” How can any sexual violence policy differ from, “rape is illegal and you will be prosecuted if you do it?” The college’s sexual assault policy states:
The sexual assault policy describes the College’s policy toward sexual assault and zero-tolerance policy towards rape. It also provides guidance for survivors of sexual assault, outlines the College’s disciplinary response to alleged incidents of sexual assault, and identifies the relevant organizations within the College responsible for managing the policy and programs associated with it. Occidental’s policy complies with relevant state and federal statutes.
The college then lists actions you should take if you are raped. Step one is to call the Los Angeles Police Department or 911. Victims are then advised to call campus safety who will, “contact the person(s) you need to assist you through the crisis.” Are victims led to believe that campus safety will report the crimes for them?
College administrators are not fit to determine if someone is a rapist or not. This needs to be handled by real courts. The fact that it’s not is truly unbelievable. Private school or not, no campus is immune to the laws governing the state. What the heck is going on here?
There needs to be outreach letting these victims know that crimes should be reported to proper authorities, not a college tribunal who has an interest in keeping it’s reputation squeaky clean. And whoever assigned a book report as a punishment for rape should be charged as well. This is a travesty – a very confusing travesty.