Harvard Student Who Claims On-Campus Sexual Assault Slams University Policies


Congress also annually appropriates funds for schools to combat on-campus violence against women.

But, according to Berkowitz, colleges have been lax in reporting these statistics. "I think part of it is that no one wants to seem like a school where a lot of rapes happen, particularly when all the competitive schools are reporting low numbers," he said. "The reality is that one school is probably not any worse than the next. This is a universal problem."

He also noted that campus judicial systems are "not set up" to deal with serious crimes like rape. "They are established to deal with things like plagiarism and internal violations. Rape is more akin to murder and is a very elaborate crime."

As for the author of the Crimson article, she says that Harvard officials told her "about 20 times" that she could transfer to a new dorm, away from her assailant, but she decided to stay among friends.

"At first, this option felt unfair," she writes. "Why should I be the one moving when I had done nothing wrong? Did this imply that what had happened to me was my fault? Then, the idea of transferring felt utterly disempowering."

She says the school issued a no-contact order against the man, but that was not enough. "[I]n my opinion that amounted to the equivalent of a slap on the hand for my assailant."

"I know deep down that all those administrators are not bad people," she writes. "They want to be supportive, and they really try to be. But they have no idea how to do deal with cases of sexual violence because they have not been trained sufficiently.

"Moreover, these administrators operate within a system that offers little alternative for people in my situation and bounds administrators to inaction because their jobs depend on it."

"This system is a product of a broader rape culture that permeates our society -- a culture in which it is acceptable to blame a victim of assault for drinking too much, in which the burden is always on the survivor to advocate for her- or himself, in which inaction is always preferred, if only to make sure the assailant does not sue anyone for unfair punishment. But that does not mean that we cannot do anything to change the way we handle sexual assault at Harvard."

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