CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) — Dickinson College students protested on Monday over the school’s reported handling of sexual assault cases.
They held a sit-in at the Holland Union Building, rallying behind Rose McAvoy, who says her sexual assault case was not properly handled.
“We have to do this or nothing will change,” Rose McAvoy said.
She says she was sexually assaulted in 2017 by a friend and given the option from Dickinson College, she decided to start a Title IX investigation instead of going to the police.
“That investigation turned out to be just as, if not more traumatizing than the assault itself,” McAvoy said.
Her investigation went on for 209 days, in which she says she was left completely in the dark. Her attacker was found guilty and put on probation.
“We reached out for like a full year trying to communicate with them how they can fix this and how we can work with them and at every turn they refused,” McAvoy said.
That is why dozens of students joined her in writing a list of 17 demands, including increased punishment and a 60 day investigation period, once a federal guideline.
“I want to do what I can to be a male figure that is supporting the trauma that females on Dickinson’s campus, but also females around the world are going through,” said senior Kyle Mattison.
“I have a friend who was at a fight at a party where no one was seriously injured and she was suspended for the entire semester,” said sophomore Jackie Logsted. “This person was found guilty of sexual assault and they were only put on probation.”
Brenda Bretz, Dickinson’s vice president for Institutional Effectiveness and Inclusivity, defends the school’s policies.
“It’s very transparent if you read it procedurally, but obviously there are things we can always improve and that’s what we want to do,” Bretz said.
Bretz acknowledges McAvoy’s case took too long, however.
“Since the time of the case in question here, we have hired two full-time Title IX coordinators, so that gives the opportunity to be much more focused on this,” he said.
McAvoy says she met with Dickinson College President Margee Ensign, who agreed to some of her demands, including a 60 day investigation period, expulsion for those guilty of rape and expulsion for those guilty of a second sexual assault.
Additionally, McAvoy says Ensign agreed to have a 30-day comment period before changes to the sexual harassment and misconduct policy are made.
McAvoy says more negotiations will take place Tuesday. In the meantime, the students will continue their sit-in.