A Yale University student's punishment for attempting to sexually assault a fellow student amounted to a one-day suspension, the victim said.
The New Haven, Conn. university investigated the December 2012 incident and suspended the perpetrator for a semester after finding him responsible for both "sexual harassment" and "sexual misconduct in the form of intimidation." But because the punishment was handed down the last week of classes before spring finals, and the university gave the student 72 hours to leave campus, his punishment amounted to a one-day suspension, said the victim of the attack, a rising junior at Yale.
The 20-year-old female victim, who asked to remain anonymous, said the school sent her an email in June notifying her the offender would be back on campus taking summer classes.
"Yale is actually quite terrible with their penalties and I feel like a lot of the verdicts lack any teeth," she said. "And I believe it's actually discouraging other people from filing other reports."
The victim said the male student was "severely harassing" her and one night in December, just before winter break, attempted to sexually assault her. She filed a formal complaint in February, early in the spring semester, she said.
Stephanie Spangler, Yale's Title IX coordinator and deputy provost of student affairs, insisted the university is doing all it can to assist victims, noting the school uses "very broad definitions" of sexual misconduct to take as many complaints as possible. In cases in which students are found responsible for sexual assault, Spangler said, the school begins its consideration of punishment with expulsion.
The Yale administration has and will "apply as harsh a discipline as is warranted," Spangler said Wednesday.
Spangler said if a victim is not satisfied with the punishment, they can appeal. The female student said she did seek an appeal, but never got a response from the school.
When asked to comment on the victim's allegations that the administration effectively responded to her assault with a wrist slap, a Yale spokesman said Friday that the university cannot comment on specific cases.
During a hearing with the university committee that focuses on sexual violence, the female student said she was repeatedly asked why she didn't run away from her would-be assailant, who she said is far bigger than her. She broke down several times, she said.
Yale changed its process for handling sexual assault complaints following a 2011 federal investigation into the school's response to sexual assaults and sexual harassment on campus. The inquiry ended with a voluntary resolution in 2012, and Yale was fined by the Education Department for improperly reporting sex crimes.
The measures were supposed to spur reforms in how sexual violence is adjudicated, but the female student and others said in practice, little has changed.
"Basically, they're doing everything on paper, but what I found personally is despite all of these committees, and administrators appointed to focus solely on these issues, there's still sort of a disconnect on what Title IX means," the Yale junior said, referring to the federal gender equity law requiring colleges to properly respond to sexual violence.
"I realize the school can't take away my pain, the school can't take away the trauma," she added. "But what Title IX is asking for is for the school to try to do its part to ease my recovery process."
Yale's changes include semi-annual reports on sexual violence and the university committee that reviews complaints. A 2012-13 report notes some students remain confused about the definition of sexual misconduct and the process for reporting it.
"Just as I was discouraged from filing a formal disciplinary report in 2009, that's continuing in 2013," said Alexandra Brodsky, a Yale law student who was the victim of a sexual assault attempt. As an undergraduate, Brodsky was among the women who filed a Title IX complaint against Yale in 2011, spurring the federal investigation.
Brodsky criticized the Education Department for failing to force significant improvements at the school.
"We really need the Education Department to really be enforcing this law," Brodsky said. "No wonder Yale is behaving this way. It's gotten away with these violations, why would it think it needs to change?"
The victim of the attempted assault said her experience has inspired her to campaign for protecting future victims.
"In order for our campus to be a better, safer place, it's up to the students to be there for each other and fight for each other," she said. "This thing is only going to work if everyone is on board."
UPDATE: This article was changed to remove the victim's name for her protection, after she previously identified herself openly.
Earlier on HuffPost:
University Of Colorado - Boulder
CU-Boulder has two federal complaints against it, and the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights has <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/18/cu-boulder-sexual-assault-investigation_n_3614277.html" target="_blank">opened one</a> for investigation.
Students at Swarthmore College <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/18/swarthmore-federal-complaint-sexual-assaults_n_3110445.html" target="_blank">filed a Title IX civil rights</a> complaint and a Clery Act complaint <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/23/sexual-assaults-mishandled-dartmouth-swarthmore_n_3321939.html?utm_hp_ref=college" target="_blank">which alleges the college </a>underreports sexual assaults and fails to respond to properly handle reports of sexual misconduct and harassment. The college promised to launch a review of their policies, and began <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/19/swarthmore-sexual-misconduct-reform_n_3624016.html" target="_blank">announcing reforms</a> in the summer of 2013.
After Angie Epifano wrote a lengthy op-ed about her experience trying to report a sexual assault at Amherst College, the school <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/22/amherst-college-sexual-assault-policy-review_n_2002874.html">started an internal review</a> and a revamp of their policies.
University Of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina began looking into their own policies after students and a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/16/unc-sexual-assault_n_2488383.html">former administrator filed two complaints with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights</a>. The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/06/unc-sexual-assaults_n_2823522.html" target="_blank">university now has</a> three federal investigations launched by the Education Department, including one into whether the university <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/07/unc-investigation-retaliation_n_3555886.html" target="_blank">retaliated against </a>one of the complainants.
University Of Montana
Update: The DOJ found the<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/09/university-of-montana-rape_n_3247466.html" target="_blank"> university botched rape </a>reports. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/02/feds-examine-response-to-_0_n_1470286.html">May 12, 2012 </a>report from AP: MISSOULA, Mont. -- The U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation into the way Missoula police, prosecutors and the University of Montana have responded to reports of sexual assault and harassment after the agency learned of complaints that cases were not being properly handled. The investigation was disclosed Tuesday after a preliminary examination conducted earlier this year concluded there was enough evidence to move ahead with a full probe, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said. Lawyers from the Justice Department's civil rights division will look at all 80 sexual assaults reported by women in Missoula over the past three years. Eleven sexual assaults involving university students have been reported in the past 18 months. Prosecutors were trying to figure out whether those university complaints were included in the total number of citywide assaults reported.
Oklahoma State Sexual Assault Reporting - Reviewed By University Task Force
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/17/oklahoma-state-sexual-assault-report_n_2317687.html">Dec. 17, 2012</a>: <blockquote>It took nearly a month for Oklahoma State University officials to tell police that a single student had been accused by several others of sexual assault, prompting confusion and outrage over the lengthy delay. On Thursday, OSU President Burns Hargis announced he asked the Board of Regents' task force to review the school's handling of the sexual assault complaints. The task force was formed in July to review school policies and ensure a situation like the Sandusky scandal at Penn State does not unfold at OSU. Hargis said in a statement that OSU "cannot leave any doubt that we are indeed properly and appropriately handling sexual misconduct allegations," Tulsa World reports.</blockquote>
University Of Notre Dame
University of Notre Dame Under Federal Review After Second Family Complains About Assault Allegations Mishandle <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/19/university-of-notre-dame-_n_825396.html">Feb. 19, 2011</a>: <blockquote>The University of Notre Dame has been placed under federal review by the U.S. Department of Education following two incidents of reported sexual assault that occurred this academic year.</blockquote>
Two years after the Ivy League school went under a federal investigation, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/01/yale-sexual-assault-punishment_n_3690100.html" target="_blank">students and alumni once again say</a> the university fails to properly <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/23/yale-sexual-assault-punishment_n_3786885.html" target="_blank">handle sexual assaults</a> and harassment. <a href="http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/06/15/yale-settles-charges-of-sexual-discrimination/#ixzz2Ly8bXen3">June 15, 2012 report from Time magazine</a>: <blockquote>The Department of Education announced on Friday that it had resolved a complaint that Yale University had failed to eliminate sexual discrimination on campus. The complaint, filed by a group of 16 current and former students in March 2011, stemmed from an incident on campus on the evening of Oct. 13, 2010, in which members of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity marched across the Yale campus to a dorm where many female students lived and chanted “No means yes! Yes means anal!” A video of the chanting men was posted online and quickly went viral, spurring an uproar at the university and nationwide.</blockquote> Yale <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/15/yale-clery-act_n_3280195.html" target="_blank">was fined $165,000 </a>by the feds.
Southern Methodist University -- Launches Task Force After String Of Sexual Assaults Reported
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/12/southern-methodist-sexual-assaults_n_1959302.html">Oct. 12, 2012 report</a> from HuffPost: <blockquote>Two students in separate cases were arrested last month on sexual assault charges. However, it raised eyebrows as people noted it took eight months to bring charges in one case while only a few days in the other. In response to the controversy, SMU announced a special task force to review how the school handles reports of sexual violence. Administrative action aside, problems persist on the Texas campus. On Wednesday, just a day before the first task force meeting, students received a crime alert warning of another sexual assault; this one allegedly targeting a young woman in her apartment west of campus by an acquaintance and fellow SMU student. The incident became the fifth sexual assault reported this year and the third in the past six weeks to go under investigation by University Park police. At least 40 sexual assaults were reported since 2006, according to the SMU Daily Campus, and almost all of them from SMU students. Over the past 25 years, more than 100 women at SMU reported being sexually assaulted.</blockquote>