The University of Colorado at Boulder is facing a Title IX investigation for allegedly mishandling a sexual assault case. Having found a student guilty of “non-consensual sexual intercourse,” the university suspended him for eight months (though they gave him a month to get off campus), made him write a 5-7 page paper reflecting on the incident, and charged him $75.
Yeah, it’s not a get out of jail free card, exactly, but it’s not far off.
The victim in the case, Sarah Gilchriese, has taken the university’s leniency up with the feds, alleging a Title IX violation (Title IX is a federal gender equality law). “We intend to conduct a prompt investigation of this complaint,” wrote Thomas Ciaspusci of the federal Office of Civil Rights in a letter to Gilchriese. “If our investigation establishes that there has been a violation of law, we will attempt to negotiate a remedy.” If the office finds a violation, the case may be referred to the Justice Department for prosecution. The university may also have federal funding cut.
The incident occurred in February and was reported in March, at which point the offender was found guilty and his punishment handed down. While Gilchriese complains that the sentence was unforgivably light, of more immediate concern was the fact that the university failed to remove the guilty party for four weeks. During this time, he repeatedly approached Gilchriese, forcing her to turn to the courts to obtain a restraining order.
Despite the university’s failure on several counts, Dean of Students Christina Gonzales claims that CU’s Title IX procedures are more than effective. “A lot of universities are replicating our [training] process,” she claims.
Colorado joins several universities that have had similar embarrassments of late. Southern Cal, Berkeley, UNC, and Swarthmore have all suffered similar complaints, prompting some activists to call for stricter punishments, both for offenders and for the sorts of colleges that think that $75 and a 5-page paper is punishment enough for rape.