Cambridge, MA- Harvard University announced they would form a committee to address sexual misconduct on the campus after they were condemned by a sexual assault victim in letter published in the school paper The Crimson. The ivy-league school is also under federal scrutiny after two students accused them of mishandling their sexual assault complaints.
The committee which is composed of faculty, students and professors will give recommendations to the university can prevent sexual misconduct and “develop insight into these issues,” university President Drew Faust said in a letter addressed to the community.
The task force is the result of an op-ed in which a student accused administrators of failing to respond to her sexual assault complaints and a federal investigation. The student alleges the university failed to properly investigate her assault because it did not line up with the school’s 1993 official definition of indecent assault, the Boston Globe reported.
The student said she was assaulted by another student who was only suspended for one semester, and was later assigned to live in the same residential dorm as she was. The woman alleged that one administrator suggested her drinking contributed to the assault, according to the Huffington Post.
Last month, two unidentified female students filed a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The complaint alleges different administrators gave sexual harassment and assault victims conflicting information on how to redress their complaints and their option to seek alternate housing.
This is the second time over the past four years Harvard Law School is under investigating by the DOE for violations of gender equality laws.
Harvard now joins the ranks of numerous other universities under investigation by the Department of Education. Currently, there are a number of universities under Title IX investigation which include Colorado University-Boulder, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Penn State among others.
Sexual harassment and assault on college campus are far too prevalent, and colleges across the country have failed to adequately address the issue. One in five college age women reported being sexually assaulted at least once during their college life and 7 percent of college men admitting they had rape or assaulted a fellow student, according to a White House report entitled “Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action.”
The report also showed that close to 22 million women, and 1.6 million men have been raped at least once in their lifetime. The report concludes that rape and sexual assault is prevalent on college campuses because of the widespread use of drugs and alcohol. It said that college women are in more danger of being assaulted than in any other facet of society.
But only 12 percent of college age women who are harassed, assaulted or raped actually report the incidents for a number of reasons. For one, they are often unaware of to whom they should address their complaint to whether it is campus or city police. Secondly, victims fear they will face retaliation and they assailant will not be properly punished.