Policy Failings and Violations

For reference throughout this section here is St. Olaf’s sexual misconduct policy. Note that it is very hard to decipher. This is the sort of thing that survivors have to deal with when opening a sexual assault case with the school.

The School Fails to Follow its Own Policies:

  • The School allowed my perpetrator to submit various irrelevant pieces of evidence including:
    • A testimony by a forensic toxicologist acting as an ‘expert witness’ who discussed the science of the ‘false memories’ I was ‘creating’ and claimed that it was, indeed, possible to give consent while intoxicated.
    • Medical records
    • Testimonies from a witness who was not present on the evening of the assault and who was not related at all.  
  • The standard of preponderance of evidence is mandated by Title IX and means that if an adjudicator finds it “more likely than not” that sexual assault occurred, they must rule on the side of the victim/complainant. Saint Olaf did not follow this standard of evidence in my case:
    • 6 people testified about the night of my assault. Five of the six described me as “drunk” including all of the perpetrator’s witnesses.
    • One of these witnesses who described me as visibly drunk did not know me at all and only saw me for about two minutes leaving a party
        • The only person who claims I was not drunk was the perpetrator himself
    • Furthermore, the perpetrator admitted I declined sex when getting into bed and says that no further verbal communication occurred.
    • Therefore, my perpetrator being found innocent is based on the assumption that I was not incapacitated (or he couldn’t tell), despite unanimous witness testimonies to the contrary AND the assumption that I somehow gave overt physical actions indicating that I wanted sex.
    • The determination paradoxically concludes that I am an unreliable witness (because of my memory loss due to state of incapacitation) yet somehow this same intoxication did not render me incapable of giving consent
  • The timeline of 60 days as noted in the sexual assault policy in several cases was not followed. My case took 85 days to complete. Another student’s took 75 days. Neither of us were given the written notice of extension mandated by the sexual assault policy.
  • The College failed to protect me from harassment, retaliation and stalking
    • My perpetrator hired two private investigators who contacted my friends, coworkers, my boss, my former boyfriend and his parents and attempted to contact several others
        • This is in direct and explicit  violation of the stalking policy 4.K.
        • It also violates the policy that protects those who make a good faith complaint from retaliation section 4.L.
        • They informed many of these people about the nature of my complaint; unilaterally going public with a private, traumatic experience
        • They asked questions about my character, the clothes I wore, and my past sexual history including “Is she sexually aggressive?” “Does she wear provocative clothing?” “Who does she date?” and “Is she flirtatious?”
    • The college was informed of this behavior on at least three separate occasions.
        • They failed to forbid the perpetrator from continuing his smear campaign, instead warning him that it could violate college policy and suggesting that he be careful.
        • The school failed to take action on these infractions for two and a half months and then proceeded to delay the investigation to attempt to pursue “informal resolution,” a measure initiated by the perpetrator’s attorneys.
        • An administrator emailed me attempting to dissuade me from filing a harassment complaint.
        • Despite the fact that the stalking policy clearly forbids “Unreasonably obtaining personal information about the complainant by accessing public records, using internet search services, hiring private investigators” not one administrator informed me that my assailant’s actions were in violation of this policy in addition to the harassment and retaliation policies
        • The school failed to classify the case as sexual misconduct (stalking) until 4 and a half months after the behavior began.
        • 5 months later, I am again going through yet another sexual misconduct process to attempt to resolve this.
    • Despite significant evidence pointing out the procedural errors relating to the extended timeline of the case, the inclusion of extraneous evidence, and the use of private investigation, my appeal was denied

 

The School Policies Fail:

  • Victim’s mental health and coping is not made a priority
    • Boe house (our campus counseling center) is difficult to get into and very few counselors have specific training in sexual violence; an issue that is rampant among college students and should be recognized as such.
    • Mental health professionals are not involved in the misconduct process and should be incorporated in for the sake of victims and the process itself.
    • No follow up is given after a verdict. Regardless of the outcome, the complainant and respondent are obviously extremely affected by it. Zero follow up is unacceptable. Though resources were reiterated in the letter, the support is passive and minimal
  • The administration communicates poorly with survivors  
    • Several students point out that when a report is made, it is necessary to frequently solicit the administrators into keeping us in the loop about the progress of the case.
    • Another student found that though our policy states that we have the right to go to the police at any time, it was only mentioned to her once and certainly never encouraged
    • When a case is finished, the no-contact order is lifted without informing the complainant.
  • The process allows for traumatic and alienating outcomes
    • When I indicated that I would be filing an OCR complaint, I was forbidden from discussing the case with my administrator advisor, the first person of authority I told and one I relied on. He learned of my sexual assault before my parents did. This was alienating and disturbing.
    • Despite attempting to ensure it did not occur, another student finds herself in the same class as her perpetrator who was not found guilty, severely affecting her experience.
    • The School claims that its adjudicators receive extensive and up to date training.  Despite numerous attempts, we have been unable to locate their credentials.
    • In attempting to get answers about my case, my father was ultimately forbidden to speak to the “Title IX team”. Instead, he was directed to the school’s attorney. Sadly, this was the only way he could obtain answers that “The Team” refused or was unable to provide.
  • The process allows for a high margin of error and inequitable legal representation
    • A single dean makes a massively weighted decision, leaving room for a huge degree of human error.
    • The college allows for highly unfair legal representation between parties. How is this a “fair and balanced” (Title IX goal) process when the perpetrator has two experienced lawyers from across the country, two private investigators and a forensic toxicologist on their side?
  • The Deans do not show themselves to be knowledgeable of their own policies and office proceedings
    • We were told we would be able to look over the harassment investigation report and then subsequently told that that was illegal and it would not be available
    • I learned that the perpetrator was submitting a complaint against me from my father. I also learned four weeks later that this complaint was dismissed, again from my father, who, both times stumbled across this information in tangential conversations with administrators. Communication is failing.
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