These American Students Are Taking Rape Reporting Into Their Own Hands

University of Columbia’s campus toilets have been tagged with alleged rapists’ names….


by Sophie Wilkinson |
Published on

When it comes to the reporting of rape in educational institutions, there is a long way to go. Especially given the fact a vigilante graffiti artist (and there’s potentially more than one) has been tagging the toilet cubicles of the University of Columbia with the names of alleged rapists and assaulters. Students spotted scrawlings last week and this week in two on-campus toilets, according to The Lion, a university blog.

Under the scrawling ‘Rapists on campus’, four names were listed. The graffiti was then scrubbed out by the New York campus's authorities – presumably, The Lion states, because it counts as vandalism. However, the same list popped up again in another campus building soon after. Under the heading: ‘Sexual assault violators on campus’ there are four names.

Photos of both sets of graffiti made it to The Lion anonymously, and obviously the names in both lists have been blurred out upon publication as we're talking about alleged perpetrators who have not been charged – or even necessarily reported to authorities. The university is yet to comment on these incidents.

This isn’t the first time this sort of anti-rape vigilantism has happened on a US campus. In 1990, the exact same thing happened in the toilets at Brown University, Rhode Island. Every time officials had the names scrubbed away, students would put the list – which grew to include 30 names – up somewhere else, until it was impossible to keep tabs on it. The actions sparked a debate around the issues of sexual harassment, assault and rape on campus and the university then pledged to strengthen their policies.

Hopefully, without libelling anyone, those in charge at Columbia might similarly stand up and take notice of the way sexual assault is being handled on campus. We don’t want to support the potential defaming of anyone who’s not actually been found guilty of assault or rape, but perhaps it demonstrates that there is a serious problem with the way rape cases are handled if students are resorting to scrawling names on toilet walls. In fact, we know there is because 23 students have, in the past couple of weeks, filed federal complaints against the university for allegedly mishandling rape cases. As one of those making the allegations explains: 'Because of Columbia’s incompetence, I was not able to pursue a just outcome on my own terms, and I continue to be triggered by my rapist’s presence on a weekly basis.'

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Picture: Getty

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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