Bloomberg the Company & Products

Bloomberg Anywhere Login

Bloomberg

Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.

Company

Financial Products

Enterprise Products

Media

Customer Support

  • Americas

    +1 212 318 2000

  • Europe, Middle East, & Africa

    +44 20 7330 7500

  • Asia Pacific

    +65 6212 1000

Communications

Industry Products

Media Services

Follow Us

Columbia Mishandled Sexual Misconduct, Students’ Complaint Says

Columbia University
A statue stands outside the Low Memorial Library at the Columbia University campus in New York. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

April 25 (Bloomberg) -- Columbia University and Barnard College mishandled incidents of sexual assault and misconduct on campus, according to a complaint filed yesterday with the U.S. Education Department by 23 students.

The complaint alleges violations of Title IX, the law that bars sex discrimination in education, the Clery Act, which requires schools to report campus violence, and provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to a statement from students at the two New York City schools.

Students from across the U.S. have filed complaints with the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights saying that their access to education has been impaired by poor responses to sexual assault and harassment. Even after campus activism and discussions, conditions at the schools, affiliated since 1900, haven’t changed, Rakhi Agrawal, one of the students who filed the complaint, said in a telephone interview.

“I’ve been doing sexual-assault work here on campus for years and I wanted to make sure that something was done before I graduate,” said Agrawal, a senior at Barnard, an all-women’s college.

Violations of the federal laws can result in fines and the loss of eligibility for federal student financial aid.

Columbia’s administration has been told that a complaint has been filed, but the school hasn’t seen it, said Robert Hornsby, a spokesman. The school is taking new measures to prevent sexual misconduct, support survivors and improve adjudication of cases, he said.

Other Universities

“That process of action and reform will continue in the months ahead because we are committed to protecting the health, safety and well-being of every member of our university community,” Hornsby said in an e-mail.

Other colleges where students have filed Title IX or Clery Act complaints include Harvard University, Yale University, University of Michigan and Dartmouth College.

Among the allegations in the complaint against Columbia and Barnard are: assault survivors are discouraged from formally reporting; serial offenders are allowed to remain on campus; assault survivors have been retaliated against and discriminated against in housing; and students aren’t reliably informed of campus violence.

The case demonstrates “Columbia’s pattern of mishandling sexual violence that results in a distinctly hostile environment,” according to the students’ statement.

The Office for Civil Rights doesn’t confirm the receipt of complaints as a matter of policy, said Jim Bradshaw, a spokesman. If after evaluation the office opens an investigation into a complaint, the office will inform the institution, complainants, and the public, as appropriate, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Lauerman in Boston at jlauerman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Lisa Wolfson at lwolfson@bloomberg.net Fred Strasser

Please upgrade your Browser

Your browser is out-of-date. Please download one of these excellent browsers:

Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or Internet Explorer.