Last year, 38 University of Virginia students reached out to Dean Nicole Eramo, head of UVA’s Sexual Misconduct Board, about an alleged sexual assault, according to a recent Rolling Stone article on rape allegations at the school.
However, 29 of those complaints — more than 75% — “evaporated,” Rolling Stone reports, and only nine UVA students ended up filing official complaints with the Sexual Misconduct Board over the 2013-2014 academic year. Fewer than half of those complaints — only four of the nine — resulted in Sexual Misconduct Board hearings, according to Rolling Stone.
UVA did not disclose the outcomes of these hearings to Rolling Stone, citing student privacy concerns.
One UVA student who went to Dean Eramo about her alleged gang rape at a prominent campus fraternity told Rolling Stone that she asked the university administrator why the university doesn’t publish all of its sexual assault data. Eramo reportedly responded, “Because nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school.”
Rolling Stone writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely notes that she had a difficult time getting even these limited statistics on sexual assaults at the school. No details about student sexual assault reports appear on the university’s website, and it doesn’t appear that the numbers are publicized.
However, UVA President Teresa Sullivan also told Erdely that the UVA administration is not “[sweeping] sexual assault under the rug” and, more bluntly, “If we’re trying to hide the issue, we’re not doing a very good job of it.” Sullivan highlighted a sexual-assault summit for college administrators held at UVA in February, the first of its kind.
To be fair, many other schools have been accused of secrecy when it comes to sexual assault. While colleges are legally required to report campus crime statistics under the Clery Act, there is no mechanism for tracking sexual assault reports that stay within the school.
Various Title IX lawsuits from students have revealed some of the major problems with how colleges handle sexual assault complaints outside of the legal system.
A lawsuit filed against Columbia University earlier this year alleged that “the University treats survivors and alleged perpetrators unequally, perpetrators are allowed to remain on campus, [and] students are discouraged from reporting sexual assault,” according to student newspaper The Daily Spectator. Columbia now releases data on student sexual assault complaints over the course of an academic year, a rare example of a college publicizing these numbers.
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