By Katie Meyer
As national conversation turns to sexual assault on college campuses, many schools have come under fire for allegedly mishandling sexual assaults and subsequent investigations. Fordham is no exception.
Last week Al Jazeera America ran an article entitled “Crime Logs Show NYC Schools Mishandle Sexual Assault Complaints,” that called sexual assault policies at Fordham University, Columbia University, New York University and Pace University into question.
The article is based on “a three-month investigation of campus crime logs.”
Of the universities named, Fordham has the most reported assaults, with 62 in the past four years according to Al Jazeera. It was also one of the more heavily featured schools in the article.
The piece opened with an anecdote about a freshman student referred to as Hailey, who brought a rape charge against a fellow student in 2013.
Hailey’s case is used to reinforce the article’s key point: rape allegations at NYC schools often result in “little or no action,” a statement Al Jazeera backs up with the statistic that “only 43 percent of sexual offenses reported on New York City’s college campuses [are] met with some form of discipline. Only 27 percent [are] referred to NYPD.”
After Hailey reported her alleged rape, the article said Dean of Students Christopher Rodgers “dismissed the allegations and said nothing could be done,” in his decision letter, which noted that “the reports and the information gathered in the investigation were not sufficient to hold the student responsible for violation of Fordham University’s policy on sexual offenses at this time.”
He did, however, reportedly issue a no contact order on Hailey and her attacker.
Hailey was apparently unhappy with the results of the case, especially with the fact that her alleged attacker was allowed to keep his job as a campus tour guide.
“He would bring tours through my building every week,” she is quoted as saying. “I’m like, ‘You can’t get this guy out of my building?’…I have to be out of my dorm or staying in my dorm in these hours because I know he’s giving a tour right through my floor.”
This paints a picture that makes Rodgers, and more generally Fordham’s sexual assault policies, seem like they neglect the needs of victims.
But Rodgers, when reached for comment, disagreed with that conclusion.
“Fordham takes action in response to every case of sexual misconduct reported to school officials; no complainant is ever simply dismissed,” he said in an email.
He also took issue with the way Al Jazeera reported the story.
“The university wasn’t asked about any of the specific allegations made in the article,” he said. “The most troubling thing about this piece is that its inaccuracies might discourage students from reporting sexual misconduct.”
See Rodgers’ full statement below
“The most troubling thing about this piece is that its inaccuracies might discourage students from reporting sexual misconduct.
The University wasn’t asked about any of the specific allegations made in the article. While the University is forbidden by law from discussing the specifics of a student complaint without his or her clear and direct permission, colleges and universities have an obligation to respond rapidly and appropriately to any reports of sexual misconduct. Fordham takes this obligation very seriously and this is precisely what occurred in this case.
The University has made tremendous efforts over time to publicize the extensive resources available to anyone who has been the victim of sexual misconduct. Fordham takes action in response to every case of sexual misconduct reported to school officials; no complainant is ever simply dismissed.
While Fordham is obligated to consider a student’s request to decline reporting sexual misconduct to the NYPD, or proceeding with an internal investigation, the University is sometimes required by statute or circumstances to proceed with investigation. Students are always fully informed of all options, and given administrative and counseling support, whatever course of action they choose.”