Students Announce Second Federal Complaint Against Swarthmore

Yesterday morning, Mia Ferguson ‘15 stood in front of Independence Hall and announced that she was filing a second complaint against Swarthmore, this time for Title IX violations.

In a press conference attended by Swarthmore students, alumni, and other supporters, Ferguson detailed the Clery Act and Title IX complaints, voiced her disappointment with the school administrative response thus far, and detailed her hopes for moving forward.

According to Title IX, educational institutions are obligated to promptly respond and investigate any claims or incidents of sexual harassment or assault, as well as make publicly known procedures that students looking to file complaints of sexual discrimination can follow. Sexual discrimination, in this case, includes sexual harassment, assault, and rape.  

After numerous student and alumni accounts that revealed the administration’s lack of openness and willingness to cooperate, Ferguson felt that the only measure drastic enough to elicit an effective response from the school was to file this second complaint.

“Department of Education investigations are now the best way and only way for Swarthmore College to understand its pervasive institutional problems, find ways to resolve them, and move forward as a college renowned not only for its leadership and excellence in education but also for student safety,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson, who described the frustrating obstacles she encountered after trying to report her sexual assault, is looking to Swarthmore to adopt a proactive stance in leading the change in ways universities handle issues of sexual violence, harassment, and assault.

Students and alumni have already begun to come together as the driving force for change within this school. Earlier this week, students organized Swarthmore Assault Prevention and Survivor Advocacy. Alumni are circulating an online petition that expresses concern over the school’s mishandling of sexual assault on campus. On a national level, the IX Network allows students across the country coping with the aftermaths of sexual assault to reach out and find each other.

In the end, Ferguson recognizes the milestones that have already been reached, and the positive changes that have already occurred within universities in the past several decades. However, she hopes that even greater steps can be taken, with Swarthmore leading the way towards an even more open and supportive environment for sexual assault victims and survivors on college campuses to speak out and be heard.

Within the coming weeks, Swarthmore will undergo external review, as the Department of Education will investigate both of Ferguson’s complaints. If the DOE determines them to be legitimate, Swarthmore could face a series of fines.

Photo by Jenni Lu/The Daily Gazette

21 thoughts on “Students Announce Second Federal Complaint Against Swarthmore

  • April 26, 2013 at 8:30 am
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    Could someone explain to me what is (are) the alleged violation(s) of the Clery Act by Swarthmore College? I am guessing from the articles that it is a failure to report nonforcible sex offenses which were either reported to police or campus security. Is this accurate?

    Reply
    • April 26, 2013 at 1:00 pm
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      Hi Question,

      Do these articles help?

      http://daily.swarthmore.edu/2013/04/18/12-students-file-federal-complaint-against-college-for-clery-violations/

      http://daily.swarthmore.edu/2013/04/19/clery-complainants-join-national-movement-against-sexual-assault-to-file-title-ix-complaints/

      Clery mainly deals with how crimes are reported. Any college that receives federal funding must publicly report crimes. They also can’t hinder survivors from reporting crimes. The complaint brought against Swarthmore has a couple different components (listed in the first article). In one of their complaints, they argue that Swarthmore has a hostile environment that prevents survivors from reporting their assaults. This drifts into Title IX regulations, which states that Colleges who fail to adequately respond to sexual assault are creating a hostile environment that infringes on students’ equal rights to an education. This is where the demarcations between Clery Act and Title IX blur.

      For clarification. You mention police, and that’s a bit different. Sexual assaults that are reported to law enforcement and not to the College may not be listed in the Clery report. According to Chris Krebs, who co-authored the study on sexual assault cited by the “Dear Colleague” letter, it would be possible to have a full blown trial for a rape or sexual assault and not have it show up on the Clery report if no one reports that assault to a college official.

      Hope this helps.

      Thanks,

      Max Nesterak ’13
      Co-Editor in Chief

      Reply
  • April 26, 2013 at 10:06 am
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    I’m curious as to why this happened in front of Independence Hall. Anybody know? Also where there any media outlets present besides the DG?

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    • April 26, 2013 at 12:55 pm
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      i heard (third-hand) that the press corps didn’t want to come out to swat because it’s private property and they can’t film on campus..

      Reply
  • April 26, 2013 at 12:57 pm
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    So I don’t really know how the law works, but in the article, it says:

    “Department of Education investigations are now the best way and only way for Swarthmore College to understand its pervasive institutional problems…”

    Again, I have no idea what I’m talking about, but isn’t sexual assault a crime? If the college is covering up assault of any kind, should there be an extensive criminal investigation, rather than a complaint?

    Reply
  • April 26, 2013 at 4:11 pm
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    Does the College actively tell victims of sexual assault not to call the police and report the crimes?

    Reply
  • April 26, 2013 at 5:00 pm
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    “A video of the press conference, along with interviews with attendees, will be uploaded later today.”

    Why don’t I believe you?

    Reply
    • April 26, 2013 at 6:39 pm
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      Dear Skepticism,

      We’ve finished the video, but our Final Cut Pro is acting up and won’t let us export. We need to do some more trouble-shooting.

      Thanks,

      Max Nesterak ’13
      Co-Editor in Chief

      Reply
  • April 27, 2013 at 12:29 pm
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    How many sexual assaults occur at Swarthmore each day? 2? 5? 10?

    Do you (those holding the press conference) consider the risk there comparable to other parts of Philadelphia? Newark? Chicago?

    Why do you think so many rapists attend Swarthmore, or are some of these perpetrators from outside of the College attendees?

    Sounds very dangerous there, and once the statistics are compiled the rate should be very interesting to compare.

    Reply
    • April 28, 2013 at 1:07 pm
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      Even if “only” 1 student a year were raped, the school still has to be in compliance with Title IX and the Clery Act. Even if no students were raped, the school has a duty to follow the law.

      How many rapes would be enough for your concern?

      Reply
    • April 29, 2013 at 2:35 pm
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      is this a joke? i really hope it is

      Reply
  • May 7, 2013 at 2:15 am
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    For the students filing the complain, have any of you read up on Naomi Wolf’s experience with renown professor Harold Bloom at Yale? This might be helpful. I know the perpetration is peer to peer, but this article deals with the silence.

    Reply

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