The Office for Civil Rights Will Be Investigating St. Olaf College

Note: David Anderson requested that the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights conduct an “independent review” of St. Olaf College policies at some point around April 2, 2016. Anderson claims that their request was denied on April 6. On April 8 a team of lawyers from Gender Justice filed this official complaint against St. Olaf (which they worked for weeks to compile) on my behalf to the OCR. Yesterday my lawyer informed me that the OCR had received my complaint and directed it to one of their teams to assign an investigator and an attorney in relation to my complaint. Despite the fact that they denied David Anderson’s request for an “independent review,” the Office for Civil Rights will be investigating St. Olaf College’s ability to adhere to Title IX law.

Since President David Anderson’s latest email we have heard nothing from Olaf administrators. No acknowledgement of what we have done on campus, no consideration of our demands, nothing.

In the meantime I have finalized and filed my complaint to the Office for Civil Rights in conjunction with lawyers at Gender Justice. You can read that complaint (barring redactions protecting the privacy of various individuals) by clicking this link:

Official OCR Complaint (content warning: rape, sexual assault, intoxication)

David Anderson claimed in a recent email: “St. Olaf College does not tolerate sexual misconduct.” This is false. The administrators of St. Olaf College do tolerate sexual misconduct. As delineated in this complaint, St. Olaf administrators tolerated explicit actions of sexual misconduct again and again. As such, myself and other survivors have no confidence in the ability of this administration to handle cases of sexual misconduct.

When college administrators allow my perpetrator to engage inequitable legal counsel far beyond the limits mandated by their own policy, they are tolerating sexual misconduct.

When college administrators allow my perpetrator to hire private investigators to harass me, when private investigators are explicitly forbidden by the school’s stalking policy, they are tolerating sexual misconduct.

When college administrators repeatedly fail to adhere to the “preponderance of the evidence” standard which is mandated by Title IX law, they are tolerating sexual misconduct.

I would rather not have had to file this complaint.

I wish that St. Olaf administrators had listened when I notified them over and over of the private investigators hired by my rapist. I wish they had listened when I detailed the many violations of my Title IX rights in my appeal to the college. I wish they had listened while myself and other students wearing grey shirts listed their failings and steps that could be taken to remedy them. I wish they had listened when Minnesota State Representatives Erin Murphy and David Bly tried to procure a meeting on the behalf of myself and fellow student protesters.

But they didn’t listen. So here we are.

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Photo Credit: Nicole Kroschel

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6 thoughts on “The Office for Civil Rights Will Be Investigating St. Olaf College

  1. It’s amazing what intelligent people can accomplish when they work together toward a common goal.

    We must be doing something right as faculty, since you are now showing us the path toward self-improvement. Thank you. It’s time for us to walk the walk we’ve been lecturing about for years.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I wish you didn’t have to do this. I wish you didn’t have to deal with all of this bullshit. Being a survivor is hard enough. But I am so thankful that you have the strength to raise your voice, to gather others to raise their voices, and to advocate for change. You are a blessing to so many. Keep fighting. While you have many obstacles, there are many, many, many of us who have your back and the back of others who have survived sexual assault only to have to survive harassment, incompetence, shaming, and so much other bs.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad for your courage, Madeline. Keep pushing and keep escalating if necessary. Like Elizabeth, I also wish you didn’t have to do this. Living Lutheran did interview me, and hopefully they continue to shed light on this injustice and violation of human rights and dignity. I may also be all wet here, but OCR’s change of response suggests to me that they are escalating the matter. It sounds like the administration is going to be on the defensive.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Last night I attended Ole Law, where President Anderson joked about how much lawyers have been able to help him the last few weeks. As I watched him and others laugh, I thought to myself that if I was ever the slightest bit unsure that he and the administration in general are not taking this issue seriously–that to him it’s some little annoyance they need to silence, I’m sure now beyond a shadow of a doubt.
    I hope this investigation changes things for people who currently don’t have a grasp on the urgency of your demands. Stay strong. They have to know they can’t silence you.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Though I’ve written before, I have a visceral need to comment on President Anderson’s attitude as seen first hand at an Ole Law meeting. (see the above comment Fellow Ole). As a 69 year-old woman who was sexually harassed and abused by a god-like professor during my years at St. Olaf (1964-1968), I find his reaction particularly arrogant and nasty. Does he not have children of his own? His elbow-poking wink wink with the good-old-boys concerning being lawyered up shows a man not interested in the human side of the kids in his care. I say fire the man.

    Like

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