Yesterday, students at University of Maryland – Baltimore County met to share their experiences with sexual assault after a class-action sexual assault lawsuit was filed claiming that UMBC maintains a culture of covering up sexual abuse. Eventually their meeting turned into a march, with over 100 students and followers tagging along and chanting ‘No means no…” as they made their way up the campus administration building to meet with UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski III.
For over an hour, demands were given to Hrabowski as he sat and listened, eventually giving an apology and vowing he and others need to do better. Hrabowski said his priority is listening to students’ concerns, maintaining a safe campus environment and rebuilding trust.
The lawsuit was brought by two former UMBC students who said they were raped in separate incidents. Each said they were humiliated, intimidated and deceived by both police and prosecutors as part of an intentional effort to cover up justifiable complaints of sexual assault. The plaintiffs claim that there is a ‘concealed epidemic of sexual assault in Baltimore County’.
Among the list of demands, read by student and sexual assault survivor John Platter, was the removal of the current police chief and the suspension of several people within the Title IX office and athletics department. Hrabowski said he was proud of the students for their activism and will review the list in further detail but that many things on the list are very reasonable.
Earlier this month, the Department of Education released plans to change Title IX and sexual misconduct dealings on campuses nationwide. A summary of these changes can be viewed in our previous blog: Changes to Sexual Misconduct Policies on Campuses Nationwide. Some say the changes will help protect colleges and give accusers a fair shot at defending themselves, while opposers think this is a step backwards and encourages a rape-friendly culture within college communities. It would seem that this group of UMBC sexual assault survivors, and others who support them, would tend to disagree with Betsy DeVos’s line of thinking and many of the upcoming changes.
“We’ll see you at the town hall,” one student said to Hrabowski.
To learn more about how campuses can help cultivate and maintain a safe environment, click here.