Lists Of Alleged Rapists Are Popping Up All Over Columbia University's Campus (Photos)
With the instances of reported sexual assaults increasing across college campuses, various administrators have received criticism that they aren't doing enough to prevent and combat sexual violence against students.
So at Columbia University, people are taking matters relating to on-campus rape into their own hands.
In response to an op-ed published in the daily paper that asked "What would you do if you found out someone you knew had definitively sexually assaulted someone?" an anonymous presumed-student has been writing the names of alleged assaulters on the school's walls.
The list, scribbled in black pen and titled "sexual assault violators on campus," originally identified four individuals when it first appeared in the women’s bathroom in Hamilton Hall last Wednesday.
Judging by the list's handwriting, it appears to have been scrawled by multiple people, as if affected students can add the name of an attacker when they see these lists on campus.
Janitors have apparently been instructed by the school to scrub these lists off the walls as soon as they emerge.
Many of the lists aren't even up for a full 24 hours, students are reporting. For some students, like Columbia Lion editor Sean Augustine, this "cover up" doesn't sit too well.
These people who are writing the names are writing the names in a women’s bathroom, I think [because] they are trying to inform other women of these people who they felt [are] a danger to others on campus, and the fact that the university is doing a cover-up operation — it bothered me.
In order to combat the short-lived nature of these public lists, some students have taken to printing and disseminating flyers with alleged rapists' names. They identify those who have been deemed "responsible by the university," as well as suspected "serial" attackers.
One of the individuals identified on the flyer was a writer for Bwog, Columbia's campus blog, which actually had previously printed one of these lists online.
Since his name was released, Bwog announced that the individual was asked to resign immediately due to a "conflict of interest."
I understand Columbia's awkward position in all this — the university likely doesn't want any negative press as a school trying to prevent its students from being informed and aware of those who have had sexual assault charges leveled against them.
But allowing some students' names to remain on walls identified as sexual assault perpetrators with no additional explanation or evidence to corroborate their wrongdoing is probably a liability.
Still, it's exciting (although not surprising) to see students care so much about reducing sexual assault and improving fellow students' safety that they're taking matters into their own hands with unconventional methods for raising awareness about this issue.