Edit desk: Predators on campus

13

Cate Peterson

My freshman year, a documentary called The Hunting Ground played at Lehigh. It was about how rampant sexual assault has become across college campuses in the United States and the reluctance of colleges and universities to handle these reported assaults.

At the end of the documentary, the director answered questions from the audience. One student asked about Title IX offenses and other legal avenues victims can take. Lehigh administrators, sitting in the back of the auditorium, proudly proclaimed the university was not under Title IX investigation, unlike many other schools. 

I remember thinking, “Wow. This school must be better than the other schools — we must not have as many assaults.”

I thought, “When sexual assault allegations do happen, this school must know how to properly handle them.”

How wrong I was.

Lehigh is no better than the other schools. Rape and sexual assaults are still vastly underreported by victims. According to Lehigh crime statistics, there were five reported cases of rape on campus in 2014, three in 2015 and zero in 2016. At a college of nearly 7,000 students, in a country where one out of every six women is a victim of attempted or completed rape, it is ridiculous to believe zero sexual assaults happened on campus for an entire year.

When someone reports a rape, the process is difficult and rarely results in repercussions for the accused. I have heard horror stories from multiple friends about the process of reporting rape or sexual assault. Invasive rape kits. Pressure to stop pressing charges. Being told there is no proof of assault despite large, purple bruises.

Instead of seeing rapists banished from Lehigh’s grounds, I’ve seen them partying and continuing to prey while their past victims take semesters off. I’ve seen those accused graduate and move on to careers while their victims crumble under emotional trauma.

Perhaps the worst part is that those committing these crimes don’t stop after one victim. A 2002 study found that only about 6 percent of college men attempted or successfully raped someone. However, the majority of these rapists were serial offenders, committing an average of 5.8 rapes each.

When administrators allow these people to stay at school, students are not “scared straight” after being accused of rape.

They will do it again.

Letting them stay at our university allows for the perpetual rape of students night after night.

Ask any female student at Lehigh and I guarantee they can give a name of an accused rapist on this campus. Ask again and I bet they’ll tell you it hasn’t been just one girl, but two or three or four.

They continue to prey and prey and prey until they leave campus. While their reign of terror might end there for undergraduates at their institution, I have little doubt that the women in their new home city are in danger.

By not removing these people, by not forcing them to take time off, by giving no kind of punishment, the school is directly endangering the young women on campus. It’s disgusting.

There are those who are wrongly accused, but it’s rare. Only about 2 percent of all rape cases and related sex allegations are false accusations.

With the #MeToo movement and the recent allegations against famous Hollywood stars and politicians, it seems we have reached a watershed moment in history. Never before have so many victims come forward and been so readily believed.

It seems like the world is finally starting to believe victims, finally ready to hear their stories and turn against the powerful men who have committed such heinous acts.

It’s time that universities followed suit. Listen to victims when they tell their stories. Investigate crimes and make an active commitment to check up on victims. Kick serial offenders out. Stop worrying about the reputation of the school and start worrying about the safety of your students. Stop allowing the perpetuation of rape culture on college campuses.

Stop letting them f*cking rape us.

Cate Peterson, ’18, is the news editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at clp218@lehigh.edu.

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13 Comments

  1. Amy Charles '89 on

    Cate, you might ask Karen Salvemini (Title IX coordinator) to please respond to the emails sent by Eliza Milliken of Project Callisto. Callisto’s a nonprofit; they run a program used by several universities that allows students to store timestamped, encrypted reports of assault for use if they want to report the assault later; they can also choose an option that allows Callisto to match the perp name with other instances of that name, so that if there’s a repeat offender Callisto can alert the university. I think it’s a good idea, given the generally miserable options available. You can read more about it here: https://www.projectcallisto.org/what-we-do

    When I last spoke with Eliza in September, Karen had not responded to Callisto’s attempts to reach out. If she has, then cool; if not, and you find Callisto interesting, you might push.

  2. Amy Charles '89 on

    I think we’d better clear something up about that 6% stat, which I don’t recall from the original column – maybe it was there and I missed it. Before male readers relax:

    That’s one study to do with rape. It is not to do with sexual assault overall. If only 6% of men committed sexual assault of any kind, only the most anxious of women would be watching their male dates for signs of aggression, or be particularly worried about winding up alone with a man. Nobody would blame women for getting into cars with men and coming out assaulted. It’d be such a rare occurrence that everyone would be shocked pretty much every time. But it’s not rare. And it’s not a mere, but very busy, 6% of men committing sexual assault.

  3. So in the face of new information that doesn’t confirm your narrative (1 in 6 rapes on campus), instead of saying “wow maybe this statistic lacks rigor or is not accurate,” NO OF COURSE NOT it’s because the girls are too scared to report the ‘rapes’ which are occurring so frequently on campus. Jeez give us all a break!!!! The type of journalism that occurs at this publication is disgraceful, plain and simple. I don’t get how this paper’s academic advisors can put their name to this and feel comfortable with their professional lives attached to this type of writing.

  4. Amy Charles '89 on

    I can’t help you if you’re purposefully failing to pay attention, Gallagher. That’s right, women are refusing, and always have refused, to report rapes, because people like you attack them for it, and it’s bad enough being raped without also having to endure the attacks afterwards. I didn’t report my own rape at Lehigh: at the time, I wouldn’t even have known who to report it to. And that was after Jeannie’s rape and murder, when any institution seriously interested in ending such crimes on campus would’ve made it very plain whom to report to. Nor did I report the non-rape sexual assaults I endured on the Hill, though even 30 years on, I can still remember very clearly how they felt. Although most of the women my age seem to have their own rape and assault stories, I don’t know any of us who’ve reported a rape, or who thought to report the rape at the time. Nobody wanted to hear about these things.

    That’s why Callisto exists. Everyone knows the difficulties facing women who report the assaults. That project makes it easier, and speeds up the “he did that to you, too?” conversations that take so long to get started.

  5. Susan Magaziner on

    Amy & Cate, You Rock.
    Hang Tight, I stay with you and so does the US Department of Education
    Tonight I sent this to President Simon. What is happening to our Lehigh women is unacceptable and should be of grave concern to everyone. Rape at Lehigh appears accepted as normative behavior, and the insular environment fails to respond effectively. Reports of sexual violence are mishandled, perpetuated, and condoned through non response. Survivors can file a joint class action complaint and request a federal investigation – Title IX sex-based discrimination. Want to end sexual assault at Lehigh.? Ask OCR to help. The Department hasn’t left since UMOJA.
    Contact Attorney Meg Willoughby at the Office for Civil Rights —- meg.willoughby@ed.gov
    If you are a person of color a Case is already open. Reference 03142021

    Dear President Simon,

    Kindly find herewith media reports regarding sexual assaults at Lehigh. For a period of years I have been having this same dialogue with the U.S. Department of Education, OCR & Clery FSA. It is time for a Clery investigation at Lehigh. With a zero reported sexual assaults in 2016 I know you will agree that there are gaping holes in this scenario. The question remains as to why rape on campus has not ended, and who is behind this pattern and practice of mishandling reports of sexual violence?

    As these journalists cite, Lehigh reported zero sexual assaults to Clery in 2016. Yet in that same year Lehigh reported to Clery 200 liquor law violations, 70 drug abuse violations and 105 arrests for liquor and/or drug violations. (Source: LUPD Clery Crime Statistics, 2016)

    One of several things is occurring at Lehigh. Sexual assaults are occurring in numbers never reported, and survivors are reporting these attacks to those of whom qualify as advocates, counselors or clergy therefore protecting the communications as privileged and non-admissable. Perhaps some of these result in an internal Title IX investigation, which is not a police investigation. Outcome would therefore be zero sexual assaults cited to Clery because no sexual assaults were ever reported to Lehigh Police. In sum, the police are never given the opportunity to do their job.

    The other scenario is that sexual assaults are reported to Lehigh Police and LUPD fails to report to Clery. This would be alleged non-compliance.

    As you are well aware, an institution is required to undertake both an internal Title IX and Police investigation when a sexual assault is reported. Lehigh is either neglecting to involve the LUPD, or the LUPD isn’t investigating or reporting actual cases of sexual assaults to Clery.

    A reported zero sexual assaults at Lehigh for 2016 is both curious and concerning. As Lehigh remains under the jurisdictional authority of OCR for hostile environment, any sexual assault committed against a sister or brother of color would be relevant to the Agreement to extent of Terms Monitoring (racially hostile environment). The first reported case this year of November 6, 2017 was a black female survivor.

    Total years for sexual assaults 2014 through 2016 indicate to Clery that no crimes were bias motivated. We know that will not be the case now.

    I continue to ask you to stop sexual violence on the campus of Lehigh, tell the truth in reporting, and to respond with urgency with a moral and ethical allegiance to the survivor above all else. Although legal tactics will save the institution’s reputation and avoid further U.S. Department of Education corrective relief, this pattern and practice will not protect and empower our women.

    I also continue to urge the Department to continue their work with regard to race-based, color-based, gender-based and sex-based discrimination. Clery will determine if non-compliance with Clery laws appears to be undertaken by Lehigh University.

    As student Cate Peterson writes, regarding predators and repeat offenders, “Stop letting them F*cking rape us.” What will you do President Simon to answer Cate’s plea?

    Very Truly Yours,

    Susan Magaziner, ‘77

    http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2017/11/lehigh_university_has_2nd_repo.html

    http://thebrownandwhite.com/2017/11/19/lehigh-rape-sexual-assault-predator/

  6. Susan Magaziner on

    As of January 2017 The U.S. Department of Education reported having 304 investigations for sexual violence on college campuses underway.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/01/18/at-first-55-schools-faced-sexual-violence-investigations-now-the-list-has-quadrupled/?utm_term=.58c18abc0dfe

    Lehigh can be one of those. Lehigh, want to put an end to sexual assault? The Department can help. All you have to do is reach out to the attorneys assigned to the open Lehigh case, or file a new case on your own. This can be done indivually or as a group in a class action complaint as the women of Columbia University did in 2016. OCR investigates presently and upon probe decided to open two separate cases regarding the mishandling of sexual violence at Columbia. Student Zoe Ridalfi-Starr led the charge and she is now Deputy Director of Know Your Title IX.

    When it comes to racial hostility Lehigh has sustained a nine month investigation and presently remains under federal monitoring. This means that if you are of protected population of class of race or class of color, any hostile environment pertaining to discrimination/harassment is relevant to the Terms of Agreement with OCR. The good news, you already have a case open and two federal attorneys waiting to be of service.

    Anyone in the Lehigh community can reach out to Attorney Meg Willoughby at meg.willoughby@ed.gov and reference Docket No. 03142021
    If you are of protected population and sustain gender-based or sex-based contact Andrea DelMonte at andrea.delmonte@ed.gov and reference 03162058

    For concerns related to Clery Crime, of which sexual assault and police reporting and response is enforced, please contact the Clery Senior Investigator assigned to Lehigh, Keith Ninemire at keith.ninemire@ed.gov

    The Title IX Coordinator is mandated to provide survivors seeking corrective and enforcement to investigate reports of sexual violence by encouraging filing with the U.S. Department of Education. This statement is published in Lehigh’s Title IX University Policy. As the posts above indicate it appears that the Title IX Coordination has failed to even respond to telephone calls from the Callisto contacts, much less suggest options of law enforcement or federal OCR investigations to students.

    Last evening I posted these same contacts in this comment section. My original comments were deleted from this article. Last year Lehigh University blocked me from the server.

    If Lehigh wanted to end sexual violence it can end tomorrow. Someone needs to file. I have written to President Simon on behalf of the Lehigh community. I have asked him how he plans to respond to Cate Peterson’s plea of “Stop Letting Them F*cking Rape Us”.

    I await President Simon’s answer. I highly doubt it will come as I have been told he unfornately has been lost on his path to prominence.

    Stay Strong Lehigh.

  7. While the claim of “any female would be able to name a rapist” is more anecdotal than factual, the point that sexual assault on the LU campus is a real issue is worth noting. Part of the problem has been women finding themselves in compromising situations with inebriated male(s). Underage students were drinking quite a bit at frat parties when I went to Lehigh and you either learned the easy way or the hard way that there is a right time and a wrong time to leave a frat party.

    There was a shame factor in reporting issues and also a believabilty issue. Does anyone remember the “walk of shame” reference? The fact is that predatory sexual behavior was normalized as “partying”.

    While it’s terrible that #MeToo has had to surface, I am thankful for the dialogue that needs to take place. Yes, women should make better choices (not drinking and cavorting with strangers, not “hooking up”), but no matter what a woman wears or does, she should not be forced to do anything against her will just because the opportunity presents itself. Now that some women have testified about heinous crimes against them, it’s well overdue for LU to create a safe place for women to be heard and taken seriously when it comes to sexual assault.

    • Susan Magaziner on

      Thank you as well Maribel! Very profound words. Thank you for this support to our Lehigh students. I apologize for not thanking you in my reply to Marjie as I had not read your contribution. It appears we are beginning this dialogue. May the students and parents of Lehigh continue this until the University ends the alleged hostile environment and sex based gender based discrimination.

  8. As a GW Alum in the 80s, sexual assault was certainly part of the party culture and it never dawned on me there was anyone to go to–and I don’t think there was. The culture was “victim shaming” and I assumed I had brought it on. As the mother of a current Lehigh student (and therefore, a tuition-paying part of the Lehigh community), I implore President Simon to respond to Susan, Cate and Amy. The time is right, and right now, to bring this issue out in the open and truly combat it.

    • Susan Magaziner on

      Thank you so very much Marjie for your voice, and strength. All mothers of Lehigh women need to unite and have concern. We have a history in this insular environment that started long before the beloved Jeanne Clery. And it must end now. I have asked Clery to investigate and Lehigh has an active file and we have been assigned an investigator. Director James Moore and Senior Investigator Dale Leska need to hear from every concerned student, parent and alum. I requested investigation in January 2014. We are in the queue. Clery Director James Moore can be emailed at James.Moore@ed.gov and the Office for Civil Rights can review a case requested by survivors or third parties on behalf of survivors.

      I commend you for your support in asking President Simon for response. President Simon responded to me only once during his short tenure. That was in February, 2015 in response to the cases concerning police abuse, profiling and University wide targeting of students who identify as Brown Hispanic and White Latino. These students were recruited from Mexican border towns in Texas and elsewhere to meet race admission quota. I received parental consent to speak to the University as advocate on their sons behalf. The issue was a legal liability for Lehigh, but the stories were heinous acts of discrimination that apparently disturbed President Simon and then Board Chair Brad Eric Scheler. This was the only time President Simon had a place to respond. Since that time our President has been silenced. He is unable probably rather than unwilling to support anything. His voice like the voices of all of Lehigh’s victims, survivors and employees had been hushed. Oppressive systems are fear driven and those in fear have no voice. We are their voice. All of them. This is not only about women. This issue is both sex based and gender based. Sexual assault has no boundaries.

      Let’s make some noise. Survivors and those who everyday become survivors at Lehigh need help.

      Stay Strong Lehigh!!! The oppressive system works to silence and shame you. Reach out to Clery, to Civil Rights, Zoe Ridalfi Starr at Know Your Title IX, and your parents and family. But above all else know you are loved and valued….your voice will empower you and take you from victim to Warrior.

  9. Amy Charles '89 on

    Susan, those are super-helpful contacts. Thank you. I will get in touch with Keith and Andrea and find out how far back they’re interested in hearing about sexual assault and harassment. I’m sure the very idea would give Title IX/admins a heart attack, but if it turns out that they’re all ears for a good way back, I think Marjie is right: now is the time.

    I’ve not been blocked here, but when I brought these issues up on a Facebook alum page it got me blocked there pretty fast. I did also write to Pres. Simon asking how I can give my degree back and sever my association — maybe this will speed the response!

    Oh, and yeah, Maribel, I remember the walk of shame. I’m sure there’s a reason why, in my mind, the scene involves an Alpha Phi. And walking home from my own rape, of course, although the emotion was somewhat more complex than shame. But there is that dual sense to it.

  10. Amy Charles '89 on

    Oh – before we go very far down the line of “women shouldn’t go out drinking because they’ll get raped”, btw, I’d like to mention Teresa Treat’s research into alcohol and promiscuity; she’s done studies of college-aged men with interesting findings. Essentially, when drunk, the men interpreted pretty much anything but “woman haranguing me” as “she wants me”. Meaning that if we’re going to start talking about who should and should not drink if we want to reduce sexual assault, we should probably be talking about men’s drinking. Truthfully, though, I’d rather not start pinning sexual assault on either, since so many of us manage not to sexually assault anyone when we drink that I suspect this is not really the problem.

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