We are disappointed in the way that Brandeis’ Title IX office is handling survivor reports.
A survivor of sexual assault spoke to The Brandeis Hoot about their experience reporting to Brandeis’ Title IX office. Under current administration policy, disciplinary sanctions do not appear on student transcripts. Once the perpetrator of the assault was found responsible for the charges, the survivor repeatedly requested that the administration change this policy, but the administration responded that keeping sanctions off transcripts was “standard practice.”
In general, students who receive disciplinary sanctions should have them marked on their transcripts, but this is essential in cases of sexual assault. If the charges do not appear on a perpetrator’s transcript (which will then follow them on graduate school applications, internships, jobs, etc.), then it is as if the charges never existed and the assault never occurred. That completely invalidates the survivor’s experience.
The manner in which the situation was handled by the Title IX office and Brandeis administration was unacceptable. What’s worse, the way it was handled is very different from the manner publicized by advertisements and posters placed all around campus and even emails from administration. It is offensive that President Ron Liebowitz’s Oct. 9 email to the Brandeis community reassured students that the Title IX office is committed to providing an environment in which survivors are treated “with respect and dignity” and to respond “promptly and effectively” to students who have faced sexual violence. Yet the survivor’s reporting process was quite the opposite: it took significantly longer than federal guidance suggests, and they often felt like Brandeis just did not want to help.
Perpetrators should be held more accountable for their actions, and the university should not punish the survivor, but rather the perpetrator. It is up to the university to uphold the Title IX rights of survivors and give them the resources to “seek support and report the incident,” as it says on Brandeis’ Title IX website. The website clearly states that “The university… forbids retaliation against the individual who has filed a complaint.” However, the survivor told The Hoot that they could potentially be sued for defamation or retaliation if the identity of the perpetrator was revealed in any way.
Brandeis administration needs to be held more accountable for upholding their promises in respect to Title IX. Survivors should never have to question whether or not they should report their case because they are worried the administration will prioritize the university’s image over the student’s emotional wellbeing. Survivors need to be able to feel comfortable reporting to the Title IX office with the knowledge that their case will be processed in an efficient manner and in a way that protects the survivor more than the perpetrator.