According to the Hartford Courant, a former Wesleyan student who was sexually assaulted at a 2010 Halloween party at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house has filed suit against the University and the frat. The suit alleges Title IX violations on the part of Wesleyan, and accuses the Administration of “failing to protect [the unidentified plaintiff] from dangers at the fraternity,” which she claims had a reputation for sexual misconduct and was known on campus as the “Rape Factory.”
The lawsuit claims that the Administration took no disciplinary action against the members of the fraternity, which is unaffiliated with the University. Allegedly, when she reported the assault, her RA did not even call the police, campus safety, or school officials.
The core of the suit charges the Administration with gross negligence in its inability to protect female students from sexual assault. In March 2010, months before the incident, VP of Student Affairs Mike Whaley sent out a campus-wide email warning students to stay away from the frat house because they could not “establish the safety of the premises.” As a freshman entering Wesleyan in the fall of 2010, the plaintiff was unaware of this warning.
After the assault, Whaley sent out another email on November 10, 2010 advising students to stay away from the Beta Theta Pi house and later, in March 2011, revised Wesleyan’s housing policy to prohibit students from living in off-campus houses owned by groups unaffiliated with Wesleyan. Such a sweeping revision sparked a student uproar, and the lawsuit claims that the plaintiff was quickly outed, harassed, and targeted, with the frat’s chanting “Free Beta” outside her dorm. She soon withdrew and transferred to another school.
Of course, this whole mess simply speaks to most college and university administrators’ utter incompetence and insensitivity when it comes to dealing with allegations of rape and sexual misconduct on campus, and truthfully, there’s not a huge difference between Wesleyan and Skidmore in that respect. Given the events of last semester, it seems pretty obvious that it’s time for us to—once again—have that same old debate over the most effective policy. We may have come a long way since this travesty, but until we get it right, nothing is going to change.