Nearly six months after 23 students filed Title IX, Title II, and Clery Act noncompliance complaints against Columbia and Barnard with the Department of Education, the complainants are still waiting for a decision on whether or not the department will formally investigate....
Can't tell your Title IX's from your Title II's? Think Clery is just the name of a small French commune (pop. 73)? Convinced that the most important recent news out of the West Wing for college students is who said what at the White House Correspondents' Dinner? If you answered yes to any of those questions, I hope (for your own sake) that you'll read on: Here's what happened: 23 Barnard and Columbia students filed complaints with the federal government alleging that the University is in violation of Title II, Title IX, and the Clery Act on April 25. Title II is part of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects people with mental and physical disabilities from discrimination. Title IX protects students against "discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance," and the Clery Act mandates disclosure of crimes that happen on or near most college campuses. Columbia's complaint follows on the heels of similar ones at many of our peer institutions, from Harvard to Dartmouth to Vanderbilt. New recommendations released by a White House task force on sexual assault on April 29 could help move an investigation into Columbia's complaint along much faster than its predecessors, though. Here's my take: Administrators have certainly screwed up—big time—in their handling of sexual assault on campus. But as Michael Dunn, the director of investigations for sexual assault and gender-based misconduct, reminded us, "people make mistakes." Right, people do make mistakes. Like me flushing my yarmulke down the toilet at Passover when I was eight. Or getting sprayed in the face twice in one day by those goddamn lawn sprinklers last week. Or, like, forgetting to comply with a federal policy (Title IX) that was passed 42 years ago, right? moreAdministrators have responded to a number of student concerns (not without a slew of negative media attention, of course) about sexual assault policy, from keeping the Rape Crisis Center open during NSOP to releasing aggregate data on sexual assault and have indicated that they are open to discussing more. Lead complainant Zoe Ridolfi-Starr and a number of the other complainants have noted, rightfully so, that this is just too little, too late. To that end, these federal complaints could be useful to light a fire under their asses and force more drastic policy changes—such as having more professional staffers at the Rape Crisis Center—once Interim Dean of Student Affairs Terry Martinez leaves for the greener pastures of Baltimore and some of the complainants graduate. I'm skeptical, though, that Title IX, II, and Clery Act complaints will help ameliorate one of the most important problems voiced by Ridolfi-Starr: that administrators have been unresponsive to all survivors except those whom they've already worked closely with. If administrators aren't acting on students' concerns now, it's hard to imagine that they'd suddenly admit that they screwed up and change their policies when they're under federal investigation. But I sincerely hope that Ridolfi-Starr and the 22 other complainants will prove me wrong (and, with the White House's strengthened commitment to ending campus sexual assault, I'm somewhat more optimistic that they will). What's yours? Are you satisfied with administrators' responses to students' concerns about Columbia's sexual assault policies? Do you think that they're too little, too late? Or are you just worried that our acceptance rate will inch up to 7 percent next year because there's yet another article about us on Jezebel? As always, drop us a line in the comments below or at email@example.com. Ben Gittelson is a Spectrum opinion columnist and a former deputy and associate news editor at Spectator. Like Michael Dunn, he is also curious as to whether Columbia is Title IX-compliant, except that he isn't getting paid to answer that question....
Allow me to explain the government shutdown using a classic allegory: Miley Cyrus.
Feb. 22 will be George Washington's 282nd birthday. In honor of our esteemed presidents, and even lesser presidents (looking at you, William Henry Harrison) (although criticism is semi-unfair---he had a cold that bothered him anyway), most places have off today. Not Columbia. Columbia scoffs at federal holidays, even if they're in honor of one of Alexander Hamilton's besties. So if you are a state or federal employee, or if you have classes somewhere that cares about these things, congratulations. Celebrate like a true patriot, if you so choose, by checking into the exploits of President Bartlet. more This is a friendly reminder that the next notable date on the academic calendar is Feb. 25, the last day to drop classes, and that spring break is exactly one month away. Also, someone should lobby for "John Jay Day" and have a holiday honoring the position of the Chief Justice, or make a holiday honoring the warm memory of the First Bank of the United States. Spectator is not entirely positive that the rationale for classes on Presidents Day has nothing to do with residual spite over the fact that...
Frank Underwood Hamilton never felt like he got the power he deserved. Spectator will look into this matter.
Updated, April 25, 3:26 a.m.
As federal grant money is drying up at several local public schools, the success of a program to support innovative fields of study is coming under closer scrutiny....
In the fall of 1968, a young Columbia Law School student marched down Wall Street to protest the war in Vietnam with thousands of other students.
Local residents and food pantries are feeling the effects of a federal decrease in food stamp funding....
An interfaith group of Upper West Side congregations is urging members to spend five days on a food-stamp sized budget of $5 per person per day.