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Action as Deliberate Indifference: Sexual Assault at Occidental College by Rachel Baer


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"One in four women will be sexually assaulted during her college career. Sexual assault and rape effect victims and survivors in a number of detrimental ways. The victims’ and survivors’ academic and social lives are often torn apart, creating a disparity between their lives and the lives of others on campus. Title IX, part of the Education Amendments of 1972, protects women against sex-based discrimination and harassment in academia. Rape and sexual assault are considered extreme forms of harassment under Title IX. The law mandates that schools, including colleges and universities, follow guidelines set by the Office of Civil Rights to prevent and remedy inequities caused by sexual assault.

I posit that Occidental College violates Title IX by acting with deliberate indifference in regards to sexual assault and rape. To determine whether my hypothesis is correct, I measured students’ attitudes of sexual assault on campus using a campus-wide blog. I paired the qualitative analysis of the blog with quantitative analysis using a survey of survivors and victims at Occidental. After the analyses, I concluded that Occidental administration violates Title IX through deliberate indifference and because of incomplete compliance with the Dear Colleague Letter by the Office of Civil Rights."

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Action as Deliberate Indifference: Sexual Assault at Occidental College by Rachel Baer

  1. 1. Sexual Assault atOccidental CollegeRachel Baer
  2. 2.  The presentation discusses sexual assaultand rape. It may contain triggers. 99% of rapists are men, but not all menare rapists.
  3. 3.  Research methods Sexual assault at college Oxy data Title IX and OCR’s Dear Colleague letter
  4. 4.  Literature review Content analysis of DearOxy Tumblr› Measured hope, anger, hurt, disappointment› Content analysis showed which specificterms concerned users most Oxy survey
  5. 5.  Circumstantial information› School size & student trust Emotional/physical effects› PTSD Academic effects“virtually all victims of rape are affected,regardless of the circumstancessurrounding the act”(1)
  6. 6.  90% of college victims/survivors knewtheir assailant before the assault Highest probability for assault: first weekof college Reminders of the assault/rape abound(will discuss later as stimuli)
  7. 7.  For every additional 10,000 undergrads,the odds of sexual assault decrease byHALF Oxy has ~2,100 students Smaller student body = more trust› Most assaults occur in “normal” situations› False sense of security
  8. 8.  Underreporting› Phenomenon in which most victims/survivorsdo not report› Common reasons include: Reprisal from assailant or assailant’s friends Social isolation These reasons are only exacerbated atsmall schools (Oxy)
  9. 9.  Fears of specific stimuli (experienced byvictims of any/all assault circumstances)› Being alone, drunk people› Dead people, suffocation, weapons Shows rape is the implicit threat of death Fears of situation-specific stimuli› Location & other aspects of the assault Embarrassment, shame, etc.
  10. 10.  Almost constant fear from stimuli  PTSD PTSD symptoms› Shame & despair› Impulsive behavior› Flashbacks› Hyper-alert At least 43% of college SA/rape victimshave PTSD› Higher than victims of other violent crimes
  11. 11.  Impaired social and work life Lower GPA Transfer rates same as non-victims Common coping technique: avoid perp› Classes› Social scene (parties)› Extra-curricular activities› Marketplace, Cooler, etc.
  12. 12.  Remember the emotional andacademic effects of sexual assault Survey aimed to show how these effectsappear at Oxy 55 survivors completed surveys in 12 days
  13. 13. Victim year at time of assault:Perpetrator year at time of assault:
  14. 14. Relationship between Survivor/Victim & the time of the assault64.7% of friend-rape victims said the assault deeply affectedthem and caused them emotional pain41 out of 49 survey respondents knew the perp. prior to assault
  15. 15. “Other” locations include cars, dances, etc.
  16. 16.  31% of participants raped at off-campushouses 5 occurred at Greek houses› 3 at SAE 4 occurred at athletic team houses› 3 at ATO Responses covered past 4 years› SAE became a dry house during this time
  17. 17.  First year› Highest incident count in Stewie (strongcommunity) Older student› Highest incident count in Haines, RV (isolatedfeel), and Stearns (isolated feel)
  18. 18.  6 perpetrators took the victims home totake care of them› Violation of trust Three year live-on rule increasesconcentration of students in dorms Lack of bystanders› RA training does not include SA/rapeprevention or bystander intervention
  19. 19.  12.5% feared social consequences 17% respondents unacknowledged DearOxy: “Having watched friends gothrough your system, and their rapists walkaway with little or no consequence, I didn’tfeel safe reporting mine.”
  20. 20.  Most decisions favored survivor/victim All descriptions of process were negative› “an utter lack of professionalism andcompassion”
  21. 21.  High-profile administrators Lack of training› No adjudicator finished all 8 NCHERM trainings Zero participants ranked adjudicators as“competent,” “caring,” “fair,” or “trained andknowledgeable”
  22. 22.  41% felt inadequate when in class anddoing homework› Only 9 stated their GPAs dropped› 48% reported no change 100% involved with 1+ club 67% reported no change in extra-curricular activities post assault Conclusion: Oxy students are the bestand faculty are supportive.
  23. 23.  Of participants assaulted their first year:› 42.9% reported current anxiety› 25.7% reported current low self-esteem› 37.1% reported current distrust 33 of 55 survivors assaulted their first year› Only 2 survey participants current first years› Shows pervasive effects of assault
  24. 24. 1. Federal fundingOccidental receives federal funding.2. Sexual harassment occurred (rape &sexual assault automatically qualify)At least 55 cases apply.3. Appropriate persons knew about theharassment and did not respondreasonablyNo known investigation of ATO or SAE
  25. 25. 4. Institution responded with deliberateindifferenceContinual use of ineffective methods5. Harassment = “severe, pervasive, andobjectively offensive”Continual emotional effects of friend/acquaintance rape6. Concrete, negative effects oneducation OR the assault created a“disparately hostile” educationalenvironment9 reported GPA drops AND rapists remaining on campus
  26. 26.  Oxy complied with all requirementsexcept:› Grievance procedures are not availablethroughout campus› Incomplete NCHERM training› Specific timeline available only for appealsprocess› “Guaranteed” protection against retaliationwithout actual protection No system for reporting further problems withperp.
  27. 27.  Legally (S.S. standard): YES OCR (Dear Colleague): YES
  28. 28.  Bystander training› Should be required at beginning of eachsemester for all students POV (etc) training for adjudicators Build on the trust that already exists› Care for each other!