Nov 04, 2013 12:47 PM EST
Columbia University Will Not Release a Semi-Annual Transparency Report on Campus Sex Crimes
Columbia already has released its Clery Report, a mandatory release of campus crime statistics, for 2012, which lists 16 sex offenses that year. Still, several student groups are pressuring the school to release current data.
More than 650 students have signed a petition started by student group Columbia Democrats calling for the school to release a transparency report for sexual misconduct. The petition is addressed to the Columbia administration and asks not for names, just for "number and nature of sexual assaults, rapes, and incidents of gender-based harassment and misconduct reported to Columbia University and Barnard College."
What the student petition is asking for is not provided in the Clery Act, which only requires a school to release information stating an incident was reported. The petition is asking for a report by the school that details what judiciary action was taken and how the offender was punished.
"I think it's a pretty reasonable thing to ask. You shouldn't wait until something horrible happens that makes you adjust [school policy]," sophomore Sarah Weinstein said. "We want to prevent that in advance from happening."
Several schools have been or are currently being investigated by the U.S. Education Department's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) for not properly investigating reported sex offenses on campus. While it is required to release the crime statistics through the Clery Act, it is also required by the federal gender equality law Title IX for a school to properly adjudicate reports of sexual assault.
At Yale University, another Ivy League school, the OCR levied penalties for not properly following through on claims of sexual assault. Now Yale releases a semi-annual reports on the judicial outcome of sex offense investigations.
Columbia did not respond to requests for comment on either the subject of Yale's semi-annual report and for how many students were punished for sexual misconduct. Student Press Law Center executive director Frank LoMonte thought it should be a simple decision for Columbia to release a semi-annual report like Yale's.
"It's hard for me to imagine the university could look a student in the eye and say 'how many rapists are on campus is none of your business.'" LoMonte said. "It's just not even a good faith argument at all. There's no way that statistics are [federally protected] information because they don't lead to identifying anyone."
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