I received many responses to my original article, entitled “Surviving Title IX resolutions, processes,” all of which were positive. There is one response that came up a few times that I felt needed to be addressed. These inquiries expressed that the statistic mentioned in my first article, that “in a Washington Post article written on June 7, 2016, the paper ranks Knox College fourth nationally for reported rapes in 2014 per number of enrolled students. This statistic is based on the fact that every 10 out of 1,000 students reported an assault,” was not a bad thing.
First, I would like to thank these people for coming to me with this because it is a common misconception. This statistic sounds positive. A possible interpretation of this is that it means people on campus feel comfortable coming to our administration and telling their story, right? Well, sort of. There is a difference between reporting an assault to the college and participating in the College’s formal Title IX Resolution Process.
The reason I was hesitant to go through with my formal report is the overwhelming feeling of guilt that overtook me after I initially reported the incident. I felt as if no one cared. It isn’t uncommon for people to report the assault initially and then shy away when they realize they have to tell their story, in detail, and that their assailant will read that detailed account. And that witnesses are interviewed, mostly friends or acquaintances, and that those reports and accounts will be read as well, by both parties. Not to mention that these cases take a lot of time. For an entire term and a half I was being interviewed and waiting on the case to wrap up. These resolution processes can be overwhelming and the reporting statistic does look high, but the amount of people that follow through could be significantly less.
Also, reporting an assault doesn’t allow the college much wiggle room to keep you away from your assailant unless you go through with the formal process. There is the option of a mutual no contact order, which prevents the assailant from reaching out to you in any way, but it also prevents you from reaching out to the assailant. They cannot remove the assailant from your classes, cannot put in any measures to make the assailant avoid you entirely, aside from not talking to you, unless you go through the formal process and there is a finding of “responsibility.” Then the disciplinary measures can be written out and enforced by the school.
It is essential that institutions like Knox understand the process and get everything absolutely right. When even small things go wrong in the process, it is common for the consequences to be disproportionately placed on the victim rather than the abuser.
For example, at Cal Poly in 2016-17, there were 76 total Title IX complaints. Yet, only 23 completed investigations were reported in the same calendar year. By this margin, only 30 percent of the reports were fully investigated. Again, people shy away from following through with an investigation after making the report because it’s a difficult process. And, out of those 23, only findings of responsibility through a formal process would have any chance at implementing sanctions and protections for the victim.
The fact that people feel comfortable reporting their assaults at Knox is great. It gives Knox College a more accurate picture of how many assaults occur on campus. By writing this response, I am not in any way suggesting that you shouldn’t report harassment or assault to the college.
The process hasn’t failed everyone. Through my series and investigation, I will attempt to highlight flaws in their process and suggest solutions.
As always, feel free to reach out with questions, corrections, concerns or anything else. Thank you for reading.