12 Students Bring Federal Complaint Against College for Clery Violations

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Mia Ferguson '15 (left) and Hope Brinn '15

Early this morning, Mia Ferguson ’15 and Hope Brinn ’15 filed a complaint with the federal government against Swarthmore College for violating the Clery Act. Their complaint was filed with testimonies from 10 other students, the most they know of a college ever having submitted in one complaint.

They say they were motivated by growing concerns among students that the College was not adequately addressing reports of sexual assault. The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, or Clery Act, requires colleges and universities receiving federal funding to document and disclose information about crime committed on or near campus. In their complaint, Ferguson and Brinn bring six allegations of misconduct against the college:

1. Discouraging students from reporting crime to local law enforcement and from going through formal judiciary proceedings

2. Persistently underreporting incidents of sexual battery, sexual assault, and rape in the Annual Clery Security Report

3. Persistently underreporting incidents of sexual battery, sexual assault, and rape in the daily crime log

4. Failing to issue timely reports of incidents of sexual battery, sexual assault, and rape

5. Failing to publicly report potential sanctions for sexual battery, sexual assault, and rape

6. Intimidating, discriminating, and retaliating against sexual assault and rape survivors and their advocates

Their complaint will be reviewed by the Department of Education and may be granted an investigation in as soon as two weeks. During an investigation, the Department of Education will collect documents and statements to determine if the College’s policies systematically mishandle students’ reports of sexual assaults.

Their complaint comes three days after President Rebecca Chopp announced the College would seek an independent review of its policies regarding sexual misconduct.

Brinn says an external review is insufficient.

“We have a huge history of not complying with the law, and I think that needs to be addressed,” Brinn said. “We have 12 individuals coming forward which demonstrates clearly a systemic issue that needs to be addressed with policy changes.”

Ferguson says it is important to frame this action within a national movement. Ferguson said they have been working closely with Andrea Pino and Annie Clark, who act as informal consultants to students seeking to file complaints with the federal government. Pino and Clark made headlines when they filed a Title IX complaint against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, spurring a national movement for sexual assault policy reform in higher education.

Since then, they have formed an underground network of survivors at colleges across the country including Amherst, Yale, Occidental, and Princeton. They say they have already provided advice to students from some three dozen colleges and universities.

Ferguson says the complaint does not mean she does not like Swarthmore. Rather, she says, Swarthmore needs to go through this process to help it improve its sexual assault policies. By doing so, she says, Swarthmore can be a leader to other colleges across the country.

“I love this school. If it weren’t for what this school taught me I would not be doing this,” Ferguson said. “It’s not against the school. It’s against a whole larger institution.”

There will be more on this story tomorrow with interviews with with Andrea Pino and Annie Clark from UNC, experts on the Clery Act, and students who submitted testimonies. 

Photo by Max Nesterak/The Daily Gazette


  1. I know this was not easy for any involved. It will continue not to be easy. But as a Swattie who loved my time at Swat, I could not be prouder or more supportive of all of these incredible students. You are paving the way for a better Swarthmore for so many.

    • Don’t let our 6 rings blind you. You could have one, too, if you worked hard enough.

      #superbowlgrind #steelcurtain

  2. Bravo. Bravo to Hope, to Mia, to everyone who submitted their testimonies. Thank you for having the courage to challenge what has been a broken and illegal system for far too long.

    • why the upvotes? why the downvotes? i’m happy about this article, myself, but… that response was only one word, haha

      • Mob mentality? Projecting bias? This is a perfect example of why social media is never an adequate forum for any meaningful discussion, upvotes/hits trump substance (hey DG!)

        • Hence, why I am here.

          But I also want to say: The Lombardi is ours this year. Join or die. Steelers always prevail. All others are peasants.


  3. Thank you all for your courage. We are standing with you. Please let us know if there’s anything the alumni community can do to support your efforts.

  4. Thank you, Mia and Hope, for your courage and love in bringing forward these charges. Stay strong and always know you have many friends and many more unknown allies who support and appreciate the work you’re doing. I’m proud to count myself among them.

  5. Brinn says an external review is insufficient. “We have a huge history of not complying with the law, and I think that needs to be addressed,” Brinn said.

    YES. IT FUCKING DOES. You have this alum’s full support. You’re going to get a lot of shit for this, Mia, Hope, and others testifying, but stay strong!

    • The larger institution is the fact that throughout society, rape is treated as a much less serious crime than it really is and is often swept under the rug or otherwise excused. This is what’s commonly called “rape culture”.

  6. …and thanks also to the fantastic student journalists and editors for bringing this issue into the open. I’m just curious, how and when did the Gazette decide to investigate this issue?

    • Dear H,

      I began investigating this issue nearly 6 months ago after Angie Epifano’s story came out in The Amherst Student. It’s been a long process because it is a very complex issue, and it requires building trust with survivors and checking and double checking facts every step of the way. It’s been an incredible learning experience, and I feel honored that these survivors have felt safe sharing their stories with me. There is more to come.

      Thank you,

      Max Nesterak ’13
      Co-Editor in Chief

      • In all sincerity, you (and the brave survivors) deserve so much recognition for this work. It’s amazing. Thank you so much for going to such great lengths for our community.

  7. Thank you for your bravery. Swarthmore will only be made stronger by this challenge. We must keep pushing to make our communities safer.

  8. 30 years as a Swarthmore resident has allowed me many, many interactions with the gifted Swarthmore student body. The women highlighted in this article reflect the courage and moral intellect that I have seen many times before.

    The notion that Swarthmore College does not hold to the letter of the Clery law may also apply to its alcohol policy on campus. I mention this because according to local police, most of the calls they get involve alcohol…including incidents that would be part of the college Clery Report. Would these women also be addressing this issue in their legal action against Swarthmore College?

    • I’m not sure if it is the case, but it should be. As one of those rare college students that doesn’t drink, I find both the drinking culture on this campus, and the administration’s constant enabling of same appalling.

      • Please, get over your moral superiority. There is an incredible array of resources available for people that want to organize alcohol-free events. Rather than complain about the drinking culture, why don’t you use these channels to organize events with your friends? SAC and SBC are all ears.

        Plenty of people enjoy drinking, and that’s fine. Just like any substance/activity it has the potential for abuse.

      • I drank at Swat, but always thought any kind of “drinking culture” only happened among <30% of the student body. I chose to (and this was easy to do) not participate in those shenanigans.

    • are you implying that this suit doesn’t have merit or that they shouldn’t have brought it? if so, just own it.

      • No, I really do think they are objecting to the prevalence of alcohol-related crime at Swarthmore. I don’t personally agree with them but I do think the point they raise is a legitimate one.

  9. Yes yes YES – I am so grateful for Hope, Mia, and the rest of the survivors willing to bring their experiences into the open in this way. Y’all are SO brave, SO badass, and super inspiring. As a survivor on Swarthmore’s campus who has been stepped back from some of this organizing, though deeply invested in the discussions going on, I feel more supported, safe, and trusting of this community knowing that there are at least 12 people willing to stand up for these issues. This is what “healing,” “building trust,” and “moving forward as a community,” (ideals invoked by President Chopp in her letter to the community last week) truly looks like.

  10. Just so I’m clear, this lawsuit basically says that Swarthmore wasn’t handling sexual assault properly (counts 2-6), and was also preventing students from going to the police (1)?

    The first count would be absolutely heinous, if underneath its general respect for assaulted persons on campus the administration is actually preventing justice from taking its course. As someone who spent four years on the campus and has visited many times since, though, I am unsure how anyone who has spent any real time on that campus could say they don’t at least superficially wholeheartedly support victims – I’ve never seen anywhere take more open steps to address these problems (either at other schools or in the real world – not to say there aren’t better places, but Swat at least seemed like it was on the ball, and certainly not pushing the ball the wrong way). If it’s purely superficial, that’s terrible and should be punished, but I think that’s an incredibly serious allegation that goes against the weight of evidence. Was the college telling students they couldn’t go to the police? Were students told there would be ramifications if they “tattled,” or did the college indicate they wouldn’t assist the police in any investigations? I’m curious what the college was actually doing, since I never went through these channels myself.

    • with all due respect, Zach, your comment comes off as “I never saw it, so it must not be true!” Have you read Max’s recent series on sexual assault at Swarthmore? Or talked to people like Ally (from our year) and the trauma they went through on campus? Those are both good starting points. Also, how could you argue that the case is against the “weight of the evidence” when you admit to having no experience with Swat’s sexual assault policies & procedures? Do you think these students would file such a lawsuit frivolously?

      • The weight of the evidence being the chalkings and the weeks and events dedicated to survivors, things that don’t exist in the real world with nearly the regularity. Obviously private/confidential stories are evidence to the contrary, but the weight of the public evidence (since we don’t have any of the confidential evidence) points toward Swat publicly trying to do good. That was the whole point of my comment. Public = good image. In private, who knows, but the public image is at least one that tries to help survivors. If privately they’re subverting claims then that’s even more invidious than both publicly and privately working against survivors.

        And again, I still don’t understand why the police aren’t involved ever. Is this the school’s doing?

        • The chalkings and the weeks and events dedicated to survivors were brought about by a fairly small group of students. They do not represent the efforts of the administration, and there is evidence that the administration asked the chalkings to be destroyed. They also don’t represent the efforts of the study body as a whole (see: student destruction of chalkings as well).

          I’m not sure how you’re defining “weight of the evidence” such that the numerous stories in the DG articles of administration mishandling sexual assault cases is small fry compared to the fact that a few students lead support groups and made chalkings.

          • Because allegations are allegations until proven otherwise. You can’t use allegations as proof of the thing you’re alleging (or if I can, then I’ll allege that you’re wrong and bam, I win the argument). Given that there’s no proven history (yet) of Swat not helping survivors, the weight of the evidence in the public sphere is that Swat has helped. This can obviously change as the DOE investigates and releases findings.

            Again, I repeat, allegations are not themselves proof of the things they are alleging.

        • Please read the articles in the “Brought to Light” series to better understand how the college discourages reporting of rape. It is very easy for the administration to say one thing and do another (or for one part of the administration to be supportive and another part to be in the business of covering up evidence).

        • I made 3 points in this response, and have been downvoted by 86% of voters so far. I’m not sure which of the 3 points people are disagreeing with.

          1. Swat has a good public image and at the superficial level (the only level I’ve made any claim to have knowledge of) seems to respect survivors. This is what I mean by the weight of the evidence.
          2. It would be more invidious if Swat is subverting survivors’ claims privately while publicly acting to the contrary than it would be if Swat were open about their subversion. In other words, being stabbed in the back is worse than being stabbed by an enemy you can see approaching you.
          3. Question about why the police are never involved. This is completely legitimate curiosity, and I’d genuinely appreciate an explanation.

          Respond maybe? What’s the dissent?

          • I’m not sure of any specific but I would like to point out that public safety does have police authority over the campus as the shift supervisors are all certified state police officers. As such, any actions/involvement on their part would constitute police action.

          • This is in response to John’s comment “public safety does have police authority over the campus as the shift supervisors are all certified state police officers. As such, any actions/involvement on their part would constitute police action.”
            You should know that there are no certified state police officers in Swarthmore’s public safety office and they also do not have arrest powers. Having arrest powers is what makes them police officers. Temple Univ has actual police officers who carry weapons and can arrest students. Swat’s public safety team cannot arrest students, but they can bring in Swarthmore Borough police who can arrest students. So, no, public safety’s actions would not constitute police action. Some of them may work elsewhere as a PT/FT police officer but as a function of their job at Swat, they are only a public safety officer.

    • Just to see if we can clean this up: I don’t think this is a lawsuit, unless I’m mistaken. The word lawsuit is only used in the comments in this thread, never in the article. Unless the complaint above is what launches a lawsuit or somesuch? Can someone else clarify?

    • I think we should also wait to read the full article with relevant testimony and/or formal complaint before inveighing against it due to the “weight of the evidence.” My own friends’ experiences with the CJC & college on matters of sexual assault (or just plain… assault, actually) have been similarly middling-to-awful, so on the face these accusations don’t surprise me at all.

    • As someone who talked to the Title IX coordinator this year (last semester and this one) I can tell you that the tone that it is presented in is always “Well, you COULD go to the police if you REALLY wanted to…” with the implication that such an approach would be totally unreasonable. It’s always very wheedly and wishy washy and sort of in this slimy way that puts the suggestion down AS it is made, as opposed to just saying “The police are an option.”

  11. Tar and feather me now. Do what you have to do. But was last night’s meeting not intended to be productive, proactive, and progressive? Wasn’t the point to prevent things like this from happening? To begin to solve our community problems as a community? We began a discussion and this just goes and blows it up. I have faith that the Swarthmore community, administration, and students can work together to make things better. I do not think that taking this measure is healthy for fixing a community you think is broken. I don’t think it is productive in the way we can and should strive to be. And I am very sad that those who brought this forward feel as though it had to come to this.

    • I agree with you. This would have been a good last-resort tactic if the administration was unresponsive (pressuring them into acting), but the school has already committed to reform.

      Also, does this implicate everyone involved in Cleary reporting? The Faculty? The staff? The RAs?

      • Swarthmore is very good at holding community meetings, promising reform, and talking about sensitivity. However, from the number of people who have come forward, the administration seems to be very bad at taking any action that might bring negative attention to the college.

        Furthermore, “external reviews” that promise to be impartial are still paid for by the college administration and thus likely to come to whatever conclusion their client, the college administration, wants them to.

    • It’s ridiculous to assume that this complaint came as a direct result of last night’s conversation. In any case, actions like this are the most productive. The entire community should be getting behind this complaint. The intent is not to antagonize, but to fix a system that is broken. It’s the same train of thought that led President Chopp and Dean Braun to believe that an external consultant should perform a thorough check of the College’s sexual assault policies and practices. We can solve our community problems as a community with the federal government involved too. Finally, who are you to tell the twelve survivors who filed this complaint (including me), Hope, and Mia that what they’re doing isn’t healthy? I feel a hell of a lot better now that this complaint has been filed.

      As for your sadness: I spend pretty much all my time being sad about the state of this college, so join the club. The difference between us is that I actually do something about it.

    • If the point of the meeting was to prevent a complaint like this from being filed, so much the worse for the meeting. You do not get to erase a history of violations of federal law by saying that you will try to do better in the future. When a college violates the rights of students, it is entirely legitimate and appropriate for students to file a complaint. That’s the point of the law.

    • A community meeting does not erase the years of violations. An apology does not erase the pain or suffering. We are trying to address the issues of the system, and part of that is bringing to light where the system failed us, and to refuse to let those injustices be wiped aside by a community meeting, a promise to do better, and a couple of emails.

      I am very hopeful about the external review process. I am very grateful that the administration is waking up and listening. But the school’s offenses don’t just get to be forgotten.

  12. this has been a long time coming. I love Swarthmore and I want it to be the best it can be. I am so proud of my fellow Swatties right now for your tenacity and bravery. I stand with you!

  13. THANK YOU to all the students who have been sharing their stories publicly AND anonymously. This is how change happens.

    THANK YOU also to Swat Survivors and the other members of our community who have been and continue to support survivors.

    • So… you don’t want guilty parties to be legally punished for felonies, is that what you’re saying?

      • Fuck you. Seriously.

        Nothing about what Hope, Mia, or the other 11 complainants (including me), have gone through is a joke.

        • Ah, now we understand why you went out of your way to defend Julia. Because it’s all about you.

          Must be a Carson Palmer fan…

      • Good point! We’re all getting a kick out of relieving our traumatizing experiences! It’s been such fun!

        No, but seriously, you know what’s a joke? The way the administration treated the twelve of us, and the other people like us who didn’t submit testimony.

        You know what’s a joke? The idea that rape culture here is benign after the things I’ve heard, the things I’ve experienced, the things here that are tearing me apart.

        You know what’s a joke? People like you thinking that people like me don’t deserve justice.

        But I know better.

        • As someone who wasn’t one of the twelve because trying to write my testimony triggered a panic attack, I can also assure you all that there are way, way more than twelve people who have had similar experience but did not submit testimony because we couldn’t.

      • “No”,

        This is not a blatant attempt to get attention. Would you enjoy having to tell people, over and over, about one of the most painful experiences of your life? Would you enjoy people saying that you are just trying to get the “spotlight” and “fifteen minutes of fame”?

        This incredibly courageous group of students is coming forward to talk about a serious and pervasive problem on this campus. Even if the “rape culture” is benign compared to other campuses, one rape, is one too many. And it is not just one rape. As evidenced by the community collection last night, there are many survivors on our campus, and they have not felt supported by the administration.

        Even if the culture is not as bad here as it is at other places, we need to be better. It is time to talk seriously about the mistakes that the administration has made, and how we can fix these serious systemic problems.

        Nothing about this is a joke. Nothing about this is funny. If you are laughing, then you need to reevaluate your privilege, and think about what it is like for members of our community that face their perpetrators every day. You need to think about how it feels to be afraid ALL THE TIME. And you need to think about what YOU are doing, that makes this campus an unsafe space for others.

      • Yes, I am doing this all for attention. I loved getting assaulted so much that I decided it would be great to relive the experience repeatedly — JUST so people would pay attention to me! That’s also why I’m using a pseudonym here!

      • I don’t think these girls are the same people who were trying to get the frats banned, if that’s what you’re implying. The federal complaint is a serious legal threat that doesn’t have much of anything to do with the purported actions of the frats and has everything to do with seeking justice against actual criminals. Also, just because rape occurs less often here than at other schools doesn’t make any individual rape any less serious. It doesn’t matter whether it was a dozen crimes or a hundred crimes, they need to be reported to the police, and the college is preventing that.

  14. I commend Mia and Hope for doing this, and all the survivors who have recently come forward with their stories.
    I have to wonder, though, what it is that we want the administration to do. Let’s look at it from their perspective: if a student comes forward and reports a rape that occurred a few days ago, do you know without a doubt that what they say is true? Can you proceed to expel the accused rapist?
    It totally sucks, but I don’t think you can punish someone without sufficient evidence that the event occurred or a confession from the rapist.
    Again, this SUCKS. but what ways are there around it?
    Or is it more that we want better treatment for victims who come forward (which is totally reasonable. Sounds like the administration has been AWFUL towards people who come forward) ?

    • There are lots of things the administration could be doing, and hopefully will start doing! For instance:

      1) Better sensitivity training for all administration and faculty members. Stop with the victim blaming!
      2) Housing policy changes, so that survivors don’t end up being forced into living in the same dorm as their perp.
      3) Addressing the ASAP workshops: I’ve heard that there are athlete exemptions for ASAP workshops; this is a ridiculous mistake, given that there are both potential future perpetrators and potential future victims among the athletes, who need to know their resources. Also, one workshop during orientation is insufficient.
      4) Reevaluation of the CJC process – the anonymity requirements put too much of a strain on survivors, who are prohibited from going through the process and then telling their stories.
      5) Reexamine how we are filing Clery reports, and whom the school is telling CAN’T file Clery reports. Why are the only categories for sexual assault/harassment being filed “forcible sodomy”, “sexual assault w/Object”, “forcible fondling”, “incest”, and “statutory rape”? Other schools like Lehigh, where the Clery Act originated, don’t have all of these detailed subcategories, which are prevented some crime reports from actually being reported.
      6) Emergency safety phones on campus! Apparently this is a thing that is currently happening, which would be great.


      • Serious comment here, guys. For those of you who are down-voting my above, could you post why? I really want to hear your thoughts and comments about how to make this campus safer – so we can take those ideas and work to implement them.

      • I love this. Thank you for putting this list together and sharing it. Its hard to know what to do as an outside observer who wants to help but doesn’t know what to do or how to do it. A list of salient, achievable (it seems) goals that make sense and can help increase awareness of sexual assault on this campus (although lets not pretend anything will solve the problem) is so crucial, and gives me, and others like me, something to stand behind and support and push for the administration to respond to. Thank you!

        Would you (or maybe a Daily Gazette writer) consider turning this list into an op-ed about the steps that the administration, and the campus as a whole, could, and should, take? Reading the stories of survivors of sexual assault on this campus is heart-wrenching. Give us objectives to push for that we can get behind and support! Otherwise I feel like I have nothing to add to what is a very important conversation other than general condemnation of vague concepts and broad statements of support for survivors (not that these aren’t important and valuable).

    • This is true, even though I don’t know why anyone would denounce another person of committing rape when they actually didn’t do it. In my opinion being a rapist is right up there with being a murderer. I really do hope there could be a system where the college could expel those perpetrators who have actually raped someone.

  15. Thank you for being willing to stand up and make Swarthmore a better place. I want to echo the thoughts of many alum on this message thread and say that if there is anything we can do please put it out there so we can rally to support you.

  16. awesome, but not something you’d want to put on your resume or application to grad school, lawl…. i guess that’s what makes it brave.

    • I disagree. Taking a stand in the name of the law is pretty morally unambiguous. Who wouldn’t want a leader willing to stand up for what they believe in to work in their office? I don’t want to work somewhere that would reject me because they were afraid of me filing a complaint because abiding by those rules is already legally obligated. And it’s not as if this came out of the blue – administrators have long known of student discontent with CJC processes along with other methods of dealing with sexual assault. Those of us staying anonymous are doing so because Daily Gazette readers don’t need to know our names for our stories to matter – not because we are ashamed or embarrassed.

  17. Thank you for refusing to be silenced, for forcing change and taking a stance. I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of bravery and character that this entails. I am honored to be in the presence of such strong, beautiful women, and know that myself and many others support you, and will continue to support you in the long days ahead.

  18. Just curious: what are the consequences of Swarthmore being found that they violated the Cleary Act?

    • Possible fine and recommendations by the Department of Education to reform policies to better serve students. Basically the same net cost/benefit of an independent review like the one discussed by President Chopp. Except in the case of the Cleary investigation, tax dollars pay for the review.

      • I’m perfectly happy for tax dollars to go to providing a substantive external check on the Swarthmore administration, given how badly it’s failed in the past. And you ignore completely the issue of holding the College accountable for past violations. Swarthmore is supposed to follow the law simply because it is the law, not because other people start noticing it’s in violation. If institutions could just get off freely by saying “We’ll do better in the future,” they wouldn’t have to worry about compliance until after their non-compliance has become a significant public issue to the point that complaints like this one get filed.

        • Penn State is still under investigation by the DoE for violations of the Cleary Act by not reporting the heinous crimes committed by Jerry Sandusky. The investigation began in November 2011. If you want changes and quickly, the government is never the right avenue.

        • Yeah, and what if *you* were part of that ‘amazingly small minority?’ Or a good friend? Spoken like a true sociopath – it’s called empathy, and it forms part of the base of any functional social system; ever heard of it? Very presumptuous of you to think you apparently know what happened in each of these 12 cases and the ones that doubtlessly went unreported, and that all of their complaints are baseless.

          I thought they kept people like you out of my alma mater, but I guess you slipped through.

    • The difference, presumably is that with an external review, the college can take or leave the advice the consultants give. Federal action would presumably require that the school comply with all changes suggested to its policy.

  19. I think President Chopp’s decision to have an external party review these issues and gather the facts is a very good one. There have been a lot of accusations and everyone involved has the right to an impartial, fair review of the situation.

    • As an alum with many friends in consulting, I have heard over and over again that a consultant’s job is to produce the conclusion that the client desires. Consulting firms will manipulate and interpret the data they gather in any way they can to please their client. Since the client in this case is the college administration, which has proven time and time again that it does not want any light shed on either incidents of sexual assault on campus or problems with the disciplinary process, any “outside firm” that is hired to review the college’s process is going to paint the same rosy picture that the administration has: That the college does everything it can to support survivors and hold offenders accountable. Then they will come up with a few “opportunities for improvement” so it looks like they actually did something.

      • Yeah, I’m in support of both the federal and private investigation myself, but you’re basing your conclusions entirely on an anecdote and your emotional stance toward the administration. Let’s not dumb down the conversation, y’all. All that’s now happening is definitely a good thing.

        • I think it’s more likely than not that an external reviewer would play down any wrongdoing by the college. Consultants rely on their clients for references, so slamming your client in your final report is not good business (even if it’s the right thing to do). I just finished working on a consulting project in the higher education space, and we literally sent a draft of our final report to a subsection of our clients to see if there were any changes they wanted us to make before sending it to their superiors. Of course, some consultants are more ethical than others, but by and large external reviewers do not bite the hand that feeds them.

        • At this point it’s no longer an “emotional stance towards the administration” but rather a demonstrated history of prioritizing its image as a safe community over sudents’ need to know the dangers around them. I have no personal grudge against the administration, I never had a bad encounter with them myself. Furthermore, this is not just a Swarthmore problem–colleges all over the country are facing similar complaints right now. There’s a reason for that–the decisions that people make are influenced by the positions that they are in and the resulting pressures they face.

          College administrations face pressure from the board, alums, and donors to maintain the college’s reputation. Consultants face pressure from their clients, and in the end the data they produce belongs to the client which can use it however it wants.

  20. As an alum who remembers the exact same experience these women are describing in the complaint — was wondering if alum’s voices would be helpful in the complaint process as it would show the history of this practice? If so — for those who are behind the complaint – please let the Alumni community know how we can help/join in to add our voices to this important action. I wish it wasn’t still the same way it was in the 90’s – so sad to hear that things still haven’t really changed even at Swarthmore…

  21. I cannot express how much it means to me to read messages of support in these comments. I read every single one, and I want people to know that voicing support for us matters.

    To those who think this is frivolous, extreme, or wrong:
    I would not have submitted testimony if I felt this could be solved in another way. I am tired of listening to admins say that they support me and will fix this and seeing NOTHING being done. They are violating federal laws and deserve to be held accountable.

    If you have questions about my experiences or why I felt this was necessary, please reply with your contact info and I will get in touch.

    • I am humbled by your incredible courage. I think it’s a wonderful coincidence that this complaint has come out during Ride the Tide. Prospective students deserve to know about the terrible crimes committed in our community and about the administration’s disgusting response. But they should also know about the amazing bravery of those working to create a safer and more just community. When I think about the sexual violence perpetrated by Swarthmore students and the efforts of the administration to protect perpetrators rather than victims, I feel appalled by this school. When I think about your character and courage, I feel indescribably blessed to be a part of the Swarthmore community. Thank you so much.

  22. You guys are wonderful! Keep up the good work! Hip hip hooray! Way to go! Atta girls! U da bomb! Da A-bomb! Lol! says:

    This might be the single most douchey thing anyone’s ever done since Germany tried doing it back in the early ’40s. Can’t wait till President Roosechopp sends you packing, you insufferable pseudo-whistle blowers.

    • If you are a Swarthmore student, at an institution that has been seeking to have productive and constructive dialogue and that prides itself on having intelligent students, I hope that you will provide logic and shed some light on how this is “douchey”. That way, we might have the opportunity to learn from your frustrations.

    • Yeah, please enlighten us. And what the hell is with the comparison to Nazi Germany?! Put up or leave, troll.

  23. “Possible fine and recommendations by the Department of Education to reform policies to better serve students. Basically the same net cost/benefit of an independent review like the one discussed by President Chopp. Except in the case of the Cleary investigation, tax dollars pay for the review.”

    Along with possibility of suspension from participating in federal student financial aid programs.

  24. I hope that the Swarthmore administration will in turn challenge the Cleary Act. That would be a good use of the large amount of money they will be paying attorneys.

    Crimes such as rape should not be decided by Deans, Faculty and student committee at a college or university. They should be decided in a court of law, state or federal, depending upon the crime.

    Everyone deserves his or her day in court. If a rape allegedly occurs at a college or university, then it should be handled by the police.

    The idea of a college administrator being responsible for these matters is absurd. The role of the administrator should be to provide transportation to a hospital for physical documentation, and to facilitate a police report. Counseling can be provided at the college by trained individuals, or a referral made.

    • This, actually, is something I would logically like to have happen. Unfortunately, the truth is that the courts are pretty horrific at taking care of this sort of thing, particularly if the victim didn’t go to the hospital immediately – or fears the process. These cases also tend to be extremely drawn out and expensive for both parties… things that might further prevent victims from bothering to follow through. Maybe if there was some sort of briefing process by counselors prior to beginning the legal route…. or maybe some sort of on-campus fund for legal fees related to sexual assault cases…

      I do have to say that I dislike the idea of deans deciding the guilt or innocence of people on campus, having no legal nor medical training, but I think if you knew what the legal route was like (and how in the US it can literally ruin someone’s life forever, something that – surprise – rape victims don’t always wish on their rapists), you would at least tweak your position a little bit.

  25. My heartfelt congratulations on the courage it took to bring forth the Clery complaint. Also, I’m very glad you are enjoying the mutual support of the women at the University of North Carolina.

    From the questions in this thread, it seems that most people could use solid information about the Clery Act. In short, it’s a federal law that requires annual crime reporting and many other measures to increase campus safety.

    For details, here is the “bible” of the Clery Act:

    Please continue to report events as they unfold for you all. And know that your struggle is receiving notice way beyond your campus. What you are doing today will ease the way for generations to follow.

  26. Melanoma is nothing to take lightly, and judging from all the time you 12 have spent refusing to get out of the spotlight I can’t help but see it in your future.

    Atlas Abstinence (Ph.D — emphasis on the D)

    • I want to clarify that most of the twelve have chosen to remain anonymous. Additionally, from what I understand, many other students and alumni have shared similar experiences, and want to contribute to testimony. They made this pretty clear this isn’t about individual experiences, but about accounting for a national issue of underreporting. What are you trying to imply about these survivors actions? Please clarify.

      • I was not implying anything. I think they have a good cause. I also think that this Clery Act is good in the reporting aspect, but that crime is better handled by the courts. Although students need to really be put on notice that the ramifications will be racheted up in that case.

        (This is not the troll who wrote the melanoma comment).

    • you wrote this as a name I have been posting under, this is really why these discussions are so futile.

    • I’m disappointed in myself for stooping low enough to even comment on this but…

      Did something bad happen to you that put all this hatred in your heart? If it did, I’m glad you escaped with your impressive wit intact. If you have had the privilege of never experiencing sexual assault or rape, or anything remotely unpleasant for that matter, you are lucky. Either way, you’re pathetic and I hope no one likes you.

      I can say personally that I have not “refus[ed] to get out of the spotlight”. I had NOTHING to do with the referendum on Greek Life and I am not a visible member of the community in regards to recent campus discussions about sexual assault. As the previous commenter noted, most of us are anonymous in every way which doesn’t give us much “glory”.

      Plus I wear lotion with SPF every day so shut up.

  27. The Clery Act requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to keep and disclose information about crime on and near their respective campuses. Compliance is monitored by the United States Department of Education, which can impose civil penalties, up to $35,000 per violation, against institutions for each infraction and can suspend institutions from participating in federal student financial aid programs.

    Can someone explain what this means for Swarthmore?

    • It means that Swarthmore will spend a lot of money on attorneys to answer the complaint. (By the way, this is not the snarky student who decided to write a comment under my name!)

  28. I graduated in 2009, and I think that the college policy concerning sexual assault is extremely inadequate. I have friends who have experienced sexual assault while at Swarthmore, and the school’s response to the incident is just awful. If I can do anything as an alumnus, please let me know.

    • You are disgusting. I hope writing that comment and seeing that you managed to get some people angry is the most fun you ever have.


        This is why we have six trophies, and you do not. We solve problems without whining. Swat keeps you quiet because your opinion is irrelevant.

        6 rings.

  29. I just want to thank the twelve students for their courage in doing this, and complement Max on his reporting.

    I am extremely angered by the current treatment of survivors on campus, which was far from perfect when I was at Swarthmore but which appears to be getting worse. For alumni who are also angry, I’ve started a petition condemning the current policy and treatment of sexual assault. Although I have some thoughts on steps the administration should take to rectify this, I left the language very general so that as many as possible can show their support and demonstrate a diversity of experiences and suggestions within the comments. I would encourage alumni to sign with a comment adding their thoughts and perspectives.


    I did this for several reasons: to tell the administration that the alumni community is paying attention to this and is outraged, to create a centralized repository for alumni ideas, to show these courageous students they have our support, and to provide some measure of positive publicity for the college.

  30. Wait – can somebody here explain to me why the external review launched by the administration is not an adequate response? It sounds like a very level-headed thing to do, so I’m actually curious to hear why it is inadequate.

  31. Beyond the Clery Act, I find it interesting to look at the experience of the brave student who posted an article this week in the s2s column. Despite supposed good efforts of the administration, she was let down by those who claim to be part of her supportive and loving community.

  32. Honestly, get a life. We’re sick and tired of your BS and false charges, go join the real world and try this slander. Hopefully, you’ll be locked behind bars.

  33. Mia, Hope, others: Strength and fortitude. This won’t be easy, but it will be good. I’m rather proud to say that I went to the same school as you all.

    Everyone: I first heard about this complaint through the Sociological Images blog, where Professor Lisa Wade of Occidental has a really good take on this. She writes mostly about Occidental, but I think everything she says applies equally at Swat.

  34. Call me crazy but I’ve never understood why colleges are so involved in investigating charges of sexual assault. It’s a violent *crime* not a policy infraction. Both accuser and accused should be dealing with the justice system, not college administrators who, it seems to me, lack the skills to properly investigate and punish. As many here have mentioned, there is a conflict of interest built into the process. In the case of assault, suspension or other penalties at the college’s disposal seem a trivial response. Likewise, please, let’s not forget rights of the accused. Given current practices, accused persons could be unfairly punished without having access to a lawyer or a meaningful defense. This isn’t working …

  35. If I understand correctly, the NCAA punishes schools far less if they’re cooperating…does the DOE work the same way?

    I ask only because regardless of the intention, the college *looks* like it’s cooperating by doing an external review already. I absolutely agree that Swat’s in violation, but I guess I’m concerned whether students played their cards too quickly here. Maybe better to hold the complaint in case Swat does nothing in the end?

    I understand why you would want to file now though too…and you’re all very strong for doing so.

  36. You 12 are so courageous, and your alumni friends and supporters send you love and good wishes. Thank you for standing up to evil and working for social justice. I have two very close friends who are victims of Karen Henry et al, and I’m just so grateful to you for finally standing up against their anti-woman regime. She and Swarthmore have been complicit in hurting so many young women who have been raped, assaulted, and harassed on campus. May your quest for justice prevail–you have already made a huge difference.

  37. BRAVO, Mia! I applaud you and Hope for being a voice for college women across the country. Love, your high school health teacher 🙂

  38. As an alum who was raped on campus in 1998 and dealt with the institution trying to intimidate me and who had to graduate with my attacker… I am so proud of what swarthmore students are doing to hold the institution accountable. I wish I had been this brave and knowledgable 15 years ago. I only hope I can help the students at the liberal arts college where I now teach. THANK YOU, and keep up the good fight! In solidarity!

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