[KHTS] – CalArts students held a campuswide protest Thursday, walking out of classes over claims the Valencia arts college mishandled a sexual assault report, prompting a Title IX complaint, officials said.
An undergraduate student reported a sexual assault to the college back in July, more than five months after the assault had happened, according to an Al Jazeera article.
(The Office of Civil Rights) is currently investigating whether the (CalArts) failed to take appropriate action in response to claims of sexual violence, whether it has in place adequate Title IX grievance procedures, and whether it engaged in unlawful retaliation, according to a Department of Education spokesman. In light of Federal privacy laws, OCR officials can neither confirm nor deny whether or not it has any matters involving any specific individuals.
College officials led a two-month investigation into the matter, reportedly asking the alleged victim “inappropriate” questions, according to the report, including her “drinking habits, how often she partied, the length of her dress, how oral rape was even possible, whether she climaxed and whether climaxing was an issue when she’d been with her alleged rapist before.”
The college issued a statement in response to the allegation; however, officials said they couldn’t comment regarding specifics, citing privacy concerns.
“At CalArts, the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff is always our top priority,” said Margaret Crane, spokeswoman for California Institute of the Arts. “We takematters of sexual misconduct like this very seriously and in this particular incident. We followed all Institute protocols and procedures.”
The college does have information regarding sexual assaults, reporting procedures and contact information for Title IX coordinators on their Safety Policy page on its website.
“Title IX protects students from sexual harassment in a school’s education programs and activities,” according to a letter from the U.S. Department of Education. “Title IX requires the school to take immediate action to eliminate the harassment, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects.”
The accused rapist was suspended for a year and was banned from school events, but failed to adhere to the ban, according to the report. The alleged victim then challenged the college’s decision and filed a Title IX complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
The report indicated that the woman did not press charges against the accused rapist.
The female student was reportedly bullied by the accused rapist’s friends and other fellow students, according to the report.
“We are currently working with our students, faculty and staff to provide increased education and prevention resources and are fostering opportunities for community discussion to help stop these kinds of incidents from happening in the future,” Crane said. “However, due to federal privacy laws and given the fact that this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to discuss any details in this case or provide additional information.”
The Los Angeles Times reported a “substantial” amount of students left their classes around 3 p.m. Thursday to protest how the college handled the sexual assault complaint. More than 200 students have signed a petition called “Update the CalArts policy on how rape allegations are handled and how alleged assailants are reprimanded.”
The woman posted pictures on her Facebook page over the past couple weeks, thanking fellow students for sending her positive letters and showing support for her case.
The female student and the college’s Title IX coordinators did not respond to several attempts for a statement.
CalArts is one of more than 80 colleges in the Unites States that has received Title IX complaints about the handling of sexual assaults, according to the report.