Swarthmore students accuse school of squashing assault reports

April 22, 2013 3:11:01 PM PDT
Students at Swarthmore are bringing some strong accusations against the school, saying the school is hiding the number of sexual assaults that have happened on campus which they say violates student rights and federal law.

"I was assaulted on campus in my residence hall last fall," says Mia Ferguson, a Swarthmore sophomore. Mia reported her assaalt to 2 resident assistants, but Ferguson says her assault was not on the school's federally-required log of crimes.

"A staff member informed me that there had been administrative destruction of evidence of sexual assault cases."

Now the students have filed a federal complaint against the school after 12 students have given accounts of their assaults on campus.

"The college has been consistently pushing students away from reporting," Ferguson claims. "So there has just been egregious wrongdoing on the part of the administration.

Swarthmore President Rebbecca Chopp released the following statement today: "As an institution, we can always do more, which is why I decided to seek a careful and thorough external review of all of the College's policies, procedures, and sanctions related to sexual misconduct.

"We have not seen the Department of Education complaint..., but if the D.O.E. decides to pursue an investigation, we will of course cooperate fully..."

"At Swarthmore, we're at a tiny school, we are seeing our assailants and seeing the places we were assaulted every day," Ferguson says. "We need support immediately and we need to discuss this immediately."

Since filing the complaint Mia says countless people have shared their stories with her: "It's been horrific to realize the numbers."

She says she just hopes the school will make real changes and change the current culture for future students.

"For me it's not until they actually recognize that they broke federal law that any solutions will be affective," Ferguson says. "How am I to trust this administration?"

More students are expected to file testimony of similar assault experiences in the next several days.