Congrats to Forbes' Top 25 Best Public Colleges in 2013! Too bad one-fifth of them — including the very top three — are currently under fire for allegedly failing to report rape and generally sucking at dealing with sexual assault.
5 of the 25 public colleges Forbes deemed top-notch aren't so great at handling rape and sexual assault cases. "Rankings don't tell us about the betrayal we'll face when we encounter campus rape," said Andrea Pino, a lead complainant in the case against UNC who helps students across the country file federal complaints against their colleges. "UNC's brochures didn't prepare me for what I went through."
1. West Point: the entire rugby team was disbanded and punished for participating in a email chain that was derogatory to women last spring. A West Point sergeant was also recently charged with secretly filming at least a dozen female cadets, including in the shower. Last year, a woman sued West Point for "systematically and repeatedly" ignoring "rampant sexual harassment," claiming that the institution had a "history of failing to prosecute and punish those students found to have sexually assaulted and raped their fellow students."
2. University of California, Berkeley: UC Berkeley was accused in May of violating the federal Clery Act, which requires accurate reporting of campus crimes.
3. United States Naval Academy: three U.S. Naval Academy football players were charged with rape in June.
8. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: three students and one former student filed a Title IX complaint with the OCR in January on behalf of themselves and 64 other unnamed sexual assault survivors, also alleging that the dean of students was pressured into underreporting sexual assault cases. Oh, and then one of the sophomores named in the case said she was punished by the Office of Student Conduct for "intimidating" her rapist.
24. University of Colorado, Boulder: a federal Title IX complaint was filed against Boulder in June.
This "revised" list is disheartening, yes, but it's better that survivors are speaking out instead of staying silent — and you don't need Gloria Allred to do so, either.
"What many people don't realize is that most of the latest federal complaints regarding the way universities have mishandled sexual assault cases have been written primarily by students," said Annie Clark, another lead complainant in the case against UNC who works with Pino to assist college survivors nationwide. "Many people assume you have to retain a lawyer, and while that's a personal decision, none of the complaints we have worked on—UNC, Swarthmore, Occidental, USC, Berkeley, and Dartmouth — received the help of any lawyers. We spent hundreds of hours studying the law, pouring over textbooks, and working together to write these complaints over Google Docs. Anyone can file a complaint and the process is meant to be accessible regardless of class privilege."
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