On Wednesday, a federal judge dismissed a case claiming Columbia University did not adequately respond to a student’s reports of rape.
According to the ruling, Columbia fulfilled its obligations under Title IX and was “not clearly unreasonable” in the way it allegedly handled reports of sexual assault made by Amelia Roskin-Frazee, CC ’19.
Roskin-Frazee sued Columbia in March 2017, claiming the University “created a culture of sexual hostility on campus and acted with deliberate indifference” in response to her allegations of two separate incidents of rape in her first year.
Roskin-Frazee’s attorney was not available for an interview before publication.
Roskin-Frazee filed the lawsuit amid a series of Title IX investigations into the University’s handling of various alleged instances of sexual assault. In a case filed in April 2014, 23 students had also claimed Columbia violated its obligations under Title IX. In September of that same year, Emma Sulkowicz, CC ’15, had begun the mattress project “Carry That Weight” in protest of the University’s response to her rape allegations.
According to legal experts, Roskin-Frazee’s case was expected to set a new national precedent for future Title IX lawsuits had it gone to trial.
The Title IX statute “prohibits a school’s deliberate indifference to acts of sexual harassment committed by one student against another,” ensuring that institutions provide adequate support and accommodations to alleged victims.
Roskin-Frazee argued that the University had not informed her of her rights under Title IX following an alleged sexual assault in October 2015 and another in December 2015.
She claimed she did not report the incidents until August 2016, after which the University immediately opened an investigation—a timeline that the court said went to show that Columbia did not violate Title IX.
In October 2016, the University concluded its investigation unable to identify the assailants. In the months between the incidents and the submission of Roskin-Frazee’s formal report, the University had erased security camera footage that may have identified the assailants.
Roskin-Frazee claims the University, despite being able to, did not interview anyone or review the swipe log for the dormitory.
Moreover, Roskin-Frazee claims the University was unwilling to provide sufficient academic accommodations despite approaching Columbia Counseling and Psychological Services with concerns of post-traumatic stress disorder following the first rape.
The University claimed it had not been made formally aware of the alleged assaults until months after the events, and that when it had been, all associated departments acted according with their obligations.
District Judge George B. Daniels ruled in the University’s favor, stating Roskin-Frazee “fail[ed] to sufficiently allege that after acquiring actual knowledge of her assaults, [Columbia University] responded in a clearly unreasonable manner.”
A Columbia spokesperson said the University would continue to work to make the college campus an inclusive environment in which students felt safe, respected, and fully able to engage in opportunities without fear of gender-based misconduct.
At least two cases suing the University for failure to comply with its Title IX obligations remain open.