Does Tufts routinely violate Title IX?

23 04 2009

There is a great op-ed in today’s Tufts Daily called “Campus has weak sexual assault policy”.   This is precisely what we will be talking with the administration about tonight at the Sexual Violence Community Forum (7 pm in the Metcalf Lounge).

Their statements were so outrageous that they begged disbelief. The students told me that Tufts routinely sends alleged rape victims and their attackers into mediation instead of investigating the crime. Students said the university’s sexual assault policy is so vague that it doesn’t even define sexual assault. One victim told me how the Judicial Affairs Committee drilled her on what she was wearing the night she was attacked.

Here? At Tufts? How could this be possible? I just completed my master’s thesis on violence against women in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco. I’ve been designing policies to protect destitute and marginalized women from harm in faraway countries. How could I fail to notice that my own university has been placing me in danger all along?

Yes, Tufts is obligated to protect women. It’s called Title IX, and it was promulgated to assure women equal access to education. Rape victims are disproportionately women; college campuses are, by default, more dangerous for women than men. Being afraid of rape or being a victim of sexual violence prevents women from fully benefiting from their education. One student said to me, “After I was raped, I stopped going to classes because I was too afraid to leave my apartment.” She failed out that semester and is still recovering. Title IX requires that schools mitigate the hostile environment by establishing strong sexual assault policies.

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