University of Connecticut students gathered Wednesday afternoon in support of seven students who brought a Title IX complaint to the U.S. Department of Education, claiming the University failed to protect them from sexual assault. Students voiced support, and frustration with the University's handling of the complaint.
Alexandra Katz, a senior at UConn, and member of UConn's Revolution Against Rape Group, was aggravated by University President Susan Herbst's response to the complaint. Katz said, "Her statements hide a lot behind the fact that she is a female president, that our chief of police is a woman, and the amount of money that UConn puts into things such as violence prevention and protection. Just because she is a woman doesn't necessarily make her an ally."
Katz does not believe the university is doing enough to prevent sexual assault. She would like to see substantive changes in the university's handling of sexual assault and sexual violence. "One of the things she mentions," Katz said of President Herbst, "is the amount of money we put into these programs. But to me, it doesn't matter how much money you put into something if the culture of the institution doesn’t necessarily reflect that. I think one of the things we need is more training, not only for the administration, but for police officers. I think we need to create more of a campus-wide dialogue in response to this rape culture."
"I would also like to see more of a system of checks and balances," Katz said. "As far as I know, the vice president of student affairs is the only person who can appeal these cases. I want more transparency into what is actually going on when a sexual assault case is brought forward. We have this task force on civility which was set up to combat these issues, but from a student perspective, no one really knows what that is. It's secretive. We don’t know what's going on, or how it’s helping. I think there needs to be more of opportunity for students to make their voices heard, or to be involved at a higher administrative level in terms of these issues."
These changes will likely take some time. In the mean time, Katz has one request for the administration. "I personally would ask for an apology," she said, "not only for the seven students, but for the dehumanization that I personally felt, and that I know others have felt as well."