USC Rape: Administration Sweeps Assault Claims Under the Rug

Trigger warning: This story deals with accounts of sexual assault and may be triggering to some people.


USC's Student Coalition Against Rape (SCAR) reads its list of demands at Monday's protest.

University of Southern California students turned out in droves Monday at a silent sit-in to protest the school administration’s handling of sexual assault and rape claims. 

In an interview with CBS’s Kristine Lazar, USC student Tucker Reed, who participated in the protest, described her experiences with the administration after filing a claim against another student.

“I had nothing left to lose,” she said of identifying her rapist, a former boyfriend. She filed a claim with the school in November and was not notified until Thursday that the school had decided to close her case without taking disciplinary action.

But Reed had plenty of evidence against her attacker — she submitted a “binder full of emails” and four separate taped recordings in which he confessed to raping her. Instead, her rapist will graduate from the university without disciplinary action in two weeks.

That the school would be so unwilling to take action to defend its students — and that it would allow a rapist to attend the university undeterred, endangering other students — is horrifying. Worse still, these claims are not unique to USC.

Last fall, for example, a former student at Amherst College came forward and shared a disturbing story of the administration’s attempt to silence her after she was raped by a classmate. Similar treatment of student rape claims at Occidental College provoked a formal federal complaint with the Department of Education from 37 students, faculty, and alumni.

Who will hold these universities accountable for the welfare of their students? If the students’ initial allegations of rape won’t provoke the universities to act, it seems unlikely that a sit-in protest will. Rape victims seeking to bring their attackers to justice, it seems, should go directly to law enforcement and sidestep the school administration altogether.

Perhaps the Occidental complaint will motivate the government to require universities that receive federal funding to better address sexual assault claims. Regardless, it is disturbing that universities are unwilling to act in the best interests of the health and safety of their students.

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Elizabeth Strassner

Elizabeth, a Saint Louis native, is currently a sophomore at Columbia University where she is studying international politics, Spanish, and history. After Columbia, she intends to go to law school. Elizabeth has previously served on the editorial board of the Columbia Political Review, where she wrote a biweekly strategy column during the 2012 presidential election.

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