Shelby: Sexual assaults at colleges and universities are described as one of the most under-reported crimes. And protestors across the country have been calling on schools to do more to protect students. One girl is leading the charge to change campus culture. Take a look.
Sarah Tedesco was two months into her freshman year at Emerson College in Boston when she says she was raped by a student who lived in her dorm.
Sarah Tedesco: You go and report it to an administrator and they victim blame you and they ask you, ‘What were you wearing? Why were you at an off-campus party?’ It’s like, you know, I’m here trying to come forward. I want you to be a little bit more compassionate with me. You know, guide me through this process.
Shelby: The school conducted a brief investigation and dismissed the case, though Sarah was never granted a hearing. That led her, along with four other assault victims at Emerson, to file a complaint with the Department of Education.
Emerson is now one of 51 schools under investigation for violating Title IX, a federal law that requires schools to tell victims their rights, conduct an investigation and ensure victim safety.
Across the country, students have been protesting, saying schools are ignoring the rules.
Sarah: I was never told that I should hire a lawyer, so I never did. I was never told what Title IX was. I didn’t know I had any rights.
Shelby: Last week, the Obama administration released a report entitled Not Alone with new guidelines for how universities should handle assaults. It recommends better training for victims’ advocates, ensuring victims’ identities remain confidential, and conduct better investigations.
Colby Bruno: I think it’s one of the ways that the federal government is lacking in enforcement.
Shelby: Colby Bruno represents hundreds of victims and works with universities to educate them on Title IX.
Bruno: If the school doesn’t have a watchdog then the school is going to do what they want behind closed doors.
Shelby: She says when a school really wants to protect its students, it shows.
Bruno: The schools pay attention. They pay attention to what students say, they pay attention to what the numbers say, they pay attention to what their federal requirements are. It takes a strong university to look at that and say ‘okay, we’re going to do something about it; we’re going to fix it’.
Shelby: Emerson College won’t comment on Sarah’s case because of legal reasons, but in a statement the school said, ‘It has been working diligently to expand our education and sexual assault prevention programs’.
Sarah just finished her sophomore year and now wants to help other victims.
Sarah: It’s very emotionally draining. You just moved into college and you should be happy and focusing on your future and not sitting in a dorm room crying at night because nobody’s listening to you.
Shelby: For information about the Not Alone campaign, and to learn more about students’ rights, head over to ChannelOne.com.