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Sexual Assault at UConn

Uconn is dealing with a string of allegations surrounding students and sexual assault. We talked about it on Where We Live.


  1. Seven women have filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights under Title IX. They say that the University of Connecticut failed to protect them from sexual harassment and assault, and that they were treated dismissively by authorities.

    The women are now being represented by high-profile attorney Gloria Allred. This, from a press conference on October 21:
  2. President Susan Herbst responded at a Board of Trustees meeting days later. "I completely reject the notion that UConn somehow doesn't care about these all-important issues because nothing could be further from the truth," she said. 

    The University is reaching out to students via survey to share their perspective on "our campus culture and safety when it comes to issues of sexual harassment and violence."
  3. UConn is not offering much information or data about sexual assault on campus, as Jaqueline Rabe Thomas reported in the Connecticut Mirror. (Also included in this link are the official victim complaints, and President Herbst's prepared statement.)
  4. And there are lots of opinions from outside campus. 
  5. Three years ago, Where We Live explored the topic of sexual assault, on the heels of a 5-part investigative series by the Center for Public Integrity. We were joined by Kristen Lombardi, who outlined some of the most surprising findings: 
  6. Today we followed up that conversation with the CT Mirror's Jacqueline Rabe; Diane Rosenfeld, Harvard lawyer and Director of the Gender Violence Program; and Leslie Bell, psychotherapist, sociologist, and author of Hard to Get: Twenty-Something Women and the Paradox of Sexual Freedom.
  7. WWL: Campus Sexual Assault, Focus on UConn
    WWL: Campus Sexual Assault, Focus on UConn
  8. The University of Connecticut declined an invitation to be a part of the conversation. Instead, they issued a statement: 

    "UConn appreciates the invitation to participate this morning, but the federal mandate to protect most student information makes it necessary to be extremely circumspect in all discussions regarding these allegations.Those protections, which can be waived only by the students themselves, limit UConn's ability to respond directly in any substantive way, particularly since the allegations are the subject of a federal complaint currently under review. Participating in a live radio discussion with hosts or callers about particular allegations would be neither constructive nor honor our students' privacy rights."

    Full text below: 
  9. During the program, Diane Rosenfeld explained the origins of Title IX, and how it applies to sexual assault cases like the one at UConn. It's really about equal access to educational opportunity, she says, and within that, the recognition that sexual harassment or sexual assault interferes with students' access to those opportunities. She says schools have a very clear obligation to "investigate, remediate and eliminate that hostile environment." 

    More below. 
  10. Many people called/tweeted/emailed in to the program to weigh in - including UConn students, a professor and a parent. 
  11. Email from Karen: I am the mother of 5 children, one who just arrived on the Swarthmore campus, who is also involved in the Title IX complaint. Education is the key. Parents educating their sons that it is "no" unless it is an "enthusiastic yes" in a sexual encounter. Parents educating Young women that every rape needs to be reported and how to go about doing so. 
    Colleges need to start effective education programs.  Title IX complaints hit colleges in the pocketbook--federal funding for grants etc. and are a very wise way for victims to proceed. Swarthmore instituted orientation programs for both males and females, webinars that were required to be watched etc. They are carefully studying and researching best practices.

    Best practices need to be developed on a national level as to education of the students.  This needs to be reduced to zero on campuses.  Peers harming peers is not acceptable.  President Herbst needs to contact educators that have handled this in a better way.