Saturday, February 22, 2014

Northwestern student speaks out as University denies Title IX violations

The student who filed a title IX suit against Northwestern University over its inadequate response to allegations against philosopher Peter Ludlow speaks out to the Northwestern University newspaper, the Daily Northwestern.
She told The Daily on Thursday multiple offices and administrators within the University had failed her, spurring her Title IX lawsuit.
After reporting the incident in February 2012 to Joan Slavin, director of the Sexual Harassment Prevention Office, the student said she was given very little information about Slavin’s investigation into the student’s claims.
In an email update during the investigation, Slavin told the student she asked Ludlow to delete photos from his Facebook profile. The photos depicted the student and were taken without her permission, she said.
In spring 2012, Slavin sent the student a letter telling her she concluded that Ludlow had made unwanted sexual advances but she could not give her further information about disciplinary actions because it was of a “confidential personnel nature.”
When the student found out Ludlow would be returning to campus for Fall Quarter 2012, she became disillusioned with the University’s ability to respond to her claims. She said fear of running into Ludlow on campus gave her panic attacks and night terrors.
“I was shocked,” the student said. ”At least I had hope that they were going to do something. Something that’s visible, something that I can feel like I’m safe.”
Though the student said the school granted her academic accommodations, she felt the Center for Awareness, Response and Education, which was founded in 2011 to serve students who are survivors of sexual violence, had not been helpful “at all.”
“I think they can do good things for people when the sexual assaulter is not a University employee,” she said. “When it’s a University employee, things change so dramatically. And I can tell you that CARE is no longer offering me services. Period.”

In a statement released last week, Ludlow denied all allegations of sexual assault or harassment. Ludlow’s attorney Kristin Case said she and her client had evidence of “friendly communications” initiated by the student from the days immediately following the alleged assault.

The student said Thursday those communications were submitted for Slavin’s investigation.
Slavin concluded in April 2012 that Ludlow made “unwelcome and inappropriate sexual advances” toward the student.
“I stand behind my story,” the student said. “I will not back down.”
The student spoke to University Police about the incident without filing a report. In the months after the alleged assault, no one recommended that the student go to the Chicago Police Department, she said. It was only after Stevens’ encouragement about a year later that she decided to file a report.
After reporting the incident to CPD, the student said a detective told her there was not enough evidence to press criminal charges.
Filing the lawsuit was an alienating experience, but a necessary one, the student said.
“So many people have told me, ‘Well, you should just transfer out of Northwestern,’” the student said. “I worked so hard to get into this school. If anyone leaves, it should be him.”  [my bolding]
The student has also been speaking to Chicago news media.

Meanwhile, Northwestern has responded to the student's lawsuit, denying Title IX violations, though affirming many of the allegations at the core of the student's account, while providing details about its response to her initial complaint about Ludlow.

The University said it “imposed several disciplinary sanctions and other corrective actions against Ludlow” — including denying him a raise during the 2012-13 academic year, rescinding his appointment to an endowed professorship and prohibiting him from having any contact with the student — and denied it had acted with “deliberate indifference and retaliation” while handling the student’s complaint.

A six-person faculty committee unanimously supported the sanctions when Ludlow appealed them, according to the response. University spokesman Al Cubbage said in an email to The Daily the committee “could have recommended additional sanctions but did not do so.”

In its response, NU admitted many of the factual allegations made but denied most of the allegations against the University. The school denied the lawsuit’s claim that the student “will continue to suffer humiliation, mental and emotional anguish, anxiety, and distress as a result of the hostile educational environment created by Defendant and its deliberate indifference.”
Cubbage said in a statement he had made the student’s attorney aware of several inaccuracies in the lawsuit and the attorney indicated he would correct the suit.
The student’s attorney, Kevin O’Connor, told The Daily on Friday afternoon the University had provided him additional information regarding the committee, which the original lawsuit says was established to determine disciplinary actions against Ludlow.
O’Connor said he recently learned the committee was created to evaluate sanctions the University had already proposed. O’Connor said he plans to amend the lawsuit to indicate the committee’s formal decision did not recommend Ludlow be fired. The change is a technical one, O’Connor said, and he believes the substance of the complaint will remain intact.
“At the end of the day, it’s not going to affect the integrity of the lawsuit,” he said.

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