Manhattanville College releases an Annual Security Report to Manhattanville students via e-mail and publishes it on the College website.
Were you aware that in 2013, there were three reports of rape on Manhattanville College’s campus? There were also two reports in 2015.
I was able to discuss with Sharlise Smith-Rodriguez, Dean of Students, Anthony Hermann, Director of Campus Security, Scott Grant of Health Safety and Environmental A airs, and JJ Pryor from Office of Communications about providing additional information regarding these reports.
“Once a student reports that they’ve been, let’s say, sexually assaulted, we have a policy in place where once a report is reported, either to Campus Safety, or to a resident advisor, or to a Title IX Coordinator, they are to contact the Title IX Coordinator, Donna Eddleman,” said Smith-Rodriguez.
“We as an institution still have to investigate the situation,” said Smith-Rodriguez.
“A victim can stay completely anonymous, go through a CSA (Campus Security Authority), tell a CSA. The CSA then has a CSA form that they send us. We have a report; I don’t even have the opportunity to talk to the victim… Because she doesn’t want to do anything about it, she just wants it to be known. That’s a one [report],” said Anthony Hermann.
While women are more at risk for being sexually assaulted, it is important that we do not assume the gender of those who report these allegations.
Manhattanville has educated and reached out to the community about the importance of sexual misconduct and whom to report to. According to the 2015 Haven statistical data, an online prevention program that Manhattanville College students participated in, provided by Smith- Rodriguez, 64% are aware of resources on campus for relationship violence.
While it is known that sexual assault reports are extremely sensitive, they statistically remain underreported. It’s important that these reports are accounted for and that the student body is aware of the repercussions.
So, why should you care?
As a student body, all we are made aware of is how many reports were made. We do not know if in the long run this was a false report. We do not know if the respondent (alleged perpetrator),
accused of this report was found guilty, if they’ve been sanctioned, and/or to what degree.
If you were a prospect student looking to study at Manhattanville, wouldn’t you want to know what happened, broadly, after these reports were made? I’m not after finding out who was involved in these reports, but I want to know to if there were false reports and to what degree sanctions were set into place for this reported violation. But, that in itself, would be a violation according to the Manhattanville officials I spoke to.
“Manhattanville College is not required to release the sanctions of a Title IX hearing panel to the Manhattanville College community… If the respondent is found responsible, then sanctions are put into place,” said Smith- Rodriguez.
According to the College website, under Title IX Hearing Procedures, sanctions can range anywhere from a written warning to a suspension or expulsion. The respondent (alleged perpetrator) may also be restricted from activities or privileges as well.
Basically, what this means is if there is a report of sexual assault on campus and the perpetrator is found guilty, students do not have the right to be given this information because that would violate FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), which the College is in compliance with.
“The College, in compliance with FERPA and protecting the rights of our students, does not disclose educational records of our students who are involved in Title IX matters. FERPA prohibits the disclosure of student records that can be identified (or traced to) a particular student unless such student provided permission to so disclose/identify,” said Smith-Rodriguez in a follow up e-mail.
According to the article “Many Universities Don’t Want You To Know How They Punish Sexual Assault,” published by the Huffington Post, contacted schools, which did NOT include Manhattanville, to release “sanctions imposed on students found responsible by the colleges for sexual assault.” Institutions cited the FERPA Act to prevent disclosing information.
“However, FERPA does not block an institution from providing these numbers. U.S. Department of Education guidance allows schools to release information, including specific sanctions, if a student is ‘an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non- forcible sex offense’ who violated university policy. While FERPA permits this disclosure, it does not require it, and a college is free to withhold such information,” Tyler Kingkade said in his article.
I asked Smith- Rodriguez if it would be possible to broadly explain the sanctions, if there were any, in the three reports from 2013:
“In matters involving Title IX, since the College has so few cases reported, it is rather easy to determine who was the person (respondent) involved in the ma er based upon the reported outcome… if there was only one Title IX matter filed in 2012 and the campus was aware that ‘John Jones’ was involved in the manner and then suddenly was no longer on campus, would it not be clear to the community the sanction (educational record) given to Mr. Jones? So, if the Touchstone published that in 2012 there was only one Title IX ma er and the sanction was expulsion, we have disclosed a confidential educational record.”
In response, this example is only true if “John Jones” is the only student expelled that year, and it’s widely known that he was expelled out of the 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students who a end Manhattanville. Touchstone does not report the names of those involved in sexual assault cases. So, how would anyone ever know if “John Jones” was involved in the hearing in the first place if it is private information of the case that the College shouldn’t have released in the first place, ultimately allowing it to become public knowledge.
Let’s be rational here, how many students each semester quit, transfer, are expelled, and/or suspended? According to the College website, the retention rate is the percent of first-time, full-time freshman who return the following year; those entering in fall 2014 returning in fall 2015 the retention rate was 81%, for the cohort entering in fall 2015 returning in fall 2016, their retention rate was 75%.
Touchstone was not given information on what generally happened in these cases. If someone sexually assaulted someone else, why is their identity still protected?
Who was protecting the person when they were being assaulted?
I think that students should have the right to information about reports such as whether or not there were sanctions and to what degree. Let’s be honest, a “written warning” is a very different form of justice than being suspended.