Audrey at Occidental & More & More —stories of Campus Rape Coverups.
Frustrated and angry over the handling of sexual assault cases at Occidental College in Los Angeles, a group of students and faculty members recently decided to take the matter to the federal government as a civil rights case. Few people had explored this legal terrain, so the Occidental group reached out to women at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who had filed a similar complaint — which this month prompted a federal investigation — for insights on how to press their case.
The North Carolina group had taken inspiration, and a few strategic cues, from students who last fall drew attention to the mishandling of sexual assaults at Amherst College in Massachusetts. The Amherst students had, in turn, consulted extensively with women at Yale.
In the past year, campaigns against sexual assault on college campuses have produced an informal national network of activists who, while sometimes turning for advice to established advocacy groups, have learned largely from one another. They see the beginnings of what they hope is a snowball effect, with each high-profile complaint, each assault survivor going public, prompting more people on more campuses to follow suit.
“I have received hundreds of letters, Facebook notes, phone calls from students, professors, administrators, survivors saying, ‘Here’s what’s going on here, what do we do about it?’” said Annie Clark, a 2011 North Carolina graduate, and a primary author of the complaint filed against that college in January. “I’ve heard so many times from survivors, ‘You’re the first person I’ve ever told.’ Once you create a space for people to talk, they will.”