As sexual assault on college campuses persists, university administrations have come under fire for mishandling reports of sexual misconduct among their students.
Baylor University in Waco,Texas was recently in the spotlight for firing one of its esteemed football coaches for "a serious shortcoming in the response to reports of sexual violence by some student-athletes.”
Now, the school is under fire again as it seems the mistreatment of sexual assault victims is a widespread campus issue.
Victims who spoke out about sexual abuse at Baylor were reportedly at risk of being punished for drinking and engaging in premarital sex, which both violate the university’s code of conduct, the Associated Press reports.
According to Mic, several women have banded together to sue the university as they claim they were “slapped with code violations” when they reported their attacks.
"I was told by many Baylor staff that they couldn't do anything for me because my assault was off campus, yet they had no problem punishing me for my off-campus drinking," one of the women reportedly said.
Female students have launched complaints against the university for failing to properly uphold Title IX, which is the federal law that obligates universities to investigate sexual assault reports. If schools fail to follow Title IX, they could lose their federal funding for programs.
Students at Baylor are accusing the administration of using shame and intimidation to deter victims from reporting, thus relinquishing the school of its legal responsibility to investigate.
"A number of victims were told that if they made a report of rape, their parents would be informed of the details of where they were and what they were doing," said Chad Dunn, an attorney from Pepper Hamilton LLP law firm, which is representing several women involved in the lawsuit.
In June, around the time the coach was terminated, Baylor announced it would be implementing a new Sexual Assault Task Force to address inconsistencies in their Title IX procedure and policies.
Evidently, that task force has not been able to curb sexual assaults and subsequent administrative cover-ups on campus.
Pepper Hamilton LP compiled a list of recommendations for revising Baylor’s Title IX procedures which includes “a clear amnesty provision for violation of the Sexual Conduct Policy,” so that regardless of whether alcohol was involved, students won’t feel discouraged about coming forward out of fear of being punished.
It’s bad enough that young women are faced with being assaulted by their own peers, but to be hung out to dry by the administration that has a duty to protect them is downright disgraceful.
Drinking alcohol or engaging in consensual premarital sex do not serve as excuses or invitations for rape.
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