July 17th, 2013 | University

UPDATED: Former Title IX complainant organizes protest outside DOE

Alexandra Brodsky '12 LAW '16, who was one of 16 Title IX complainants, leads a protest outside the DOE calling for stricter Title IX enforcement.
Alexandra Brodsky '12 LAW '16, who was one of 16 Title IX complainants, leads a protest outside the DOE calling for stricter Title IX enforcement. Photo by S. Daniel Carter.

Around 30 to 50 demonstrators gathered outside the Department of Education in Washington, D.C. on Monday morning to call for stricter enforcement of Title IX regulations on college campuses.

Led by Alexandra Brodsky ’12 LAW ’16 — one of the 16 students and alumni who filed a Title IX complainant against the University in 2011 — the protest drew several Yale students and S. Daniel Carter, a former vice president at nonprofit organization Security on Campus who filed a 2004 complaint against Yale for noncompliance with campus security requirements as designated by the Clery Act.

The “Ed Act Now” event was the culmination of a petition on Change.org calling for the OCR to enact stronger sanctions against schools found to be in violation of Title IX. 

The DOE’s  investigation into Yale ended in June 2012 after the University and the DOE’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) entered into a voluntary resolution agreement. Yale will not face any disciplinary action but will be required to report to the OCR until May 31, 2014, according to the agreement.

“[The] OCR concludes investigations of offending universities with “voluntary resolution agreements” — signed promises that the college will do better in the future — and refuses to issue findings of noncompliance — the administrative equivalent of a guilty verdict,” said the petition. “This strategy of all carrot and no stick may be well-meaning, but it is ineffective, allowing universities to avoid their legal responsibilities.”

In an email titled “My school betrayed me” that urged people to sign the petition, Brodsky wrote that after she told Yale authorities of an attempted rape incident, the University tried to “cover up what happened” and encouraged her not to pursue formal discipline.

“I had to live in fear of the next time I’d run into him, and he faced no consequences at all,” she wrote in the email.

Hannah Slater ’13 PH ’14, who attended the protest with a sign reading “Yale was NOT compliant. HOLD SCHOOLS ACCOUNTABLE,” said she thinks the DOE’s reluctance to hand out greater punishments is an extension of universities’ reluctance to punish perpetrators of sexual assault. In addition, she said that reluctance is part of a general culture of silence and non-action that surrounds sexual assault.

As of Wednesday night, the Change.org petition garnered over 150,000 signatures.

Update: July 22

In response to Brodsky’s protest, Yale University spokesman Tom Conroy said the University has devoted significant resources to improving campus climate and improving sexual misconduct resources. 

“Ms. Brodsky, an alumna of Yale College who was one of the Title IX complainants against Yale, acknowledged in 2012 that Yale has been ‘moving in the right direction,’” Conroy said. “We wish Ms. Brodsky the best when she returns to Yale as a law student in fall 2013.”