Title IX

Columbia: Commit to Enforcing Title IX

[CW: sexual/dating violence mentions, mental health issues, racism, other discrimination mentions]

Anti-discrimination protections are crucial for our survival. No Red Tape CU includes members who are queer, genderqueer, Black and POC, Muslim and Jewish, low income, not-able-bodied, survivors of violence and discrimination, and international students. The Trump administration formally or informally rolling back Title IX enforcement is personal to us.

Title IX protects our members from experiencing homophobia.

Title IX prevents our members from being misgendered or denied access to facilities based on gender identity.

Title IX guarantees our Black, POC, Muslim, and Jewish members assault investigations and school experiences free from racial and Islamophobic violence.

Title IX provides our low-income members with free counseling, medical services, and academic support.

Title IX gives our members with disabilities the accommodations they require to be students at Columbia.

Title IX demands Columbia protect all of us from sexual and dating violence.

Title IX gives our international student members and all undocumented students the same rights as those who are U.S. citizens.

Title IX stops Columbia from retaliating against us for fighting for our rights, as Columbia has tried to do countless times before with written threats of expulsion.

The impact of these protections applies to countless other students who have benefited from Title IX. Without the protections Title IX has afforded survivors of violence and students with one or more marginalized identities, many of us would no longer be in school.

In March, we held a #CantTrumpOurTitleIX day of action in which we demanded the Trump administration enforce Title IX protections. Unsurprisingly, they are refusing to do so.

Now we call upon Columbia to commit to enacting and upholding our Title IX demands. The demands, which we released in March with 100 signatories, require little effort on Columbia’s part — slightly altering policy language and procedures, committing to expanding upon existing accommodations, etc. However, Columbia has yet to respond.

We asked EVP Suzanne Goldberg to collaborate with us on our Title IX demands before we released them. Thanks to an internet browser extension, we could see that she and her assistant, Don Harrison, opened the email five times. Neither bothered to reply. While we have been working to make Columbia safer, EVP Goldberg has denied Black and queer survivors meetings with her, defended the Columbia administration’s homophobic policies, and refused to improve the ineffective mental health resources that have been in place through multiple of our classmates completing suicide this year.

EVP Goldberg is not alone in being deliberately indifferent to gender-based violence on campus; Student Conduct and Community Standards, the office investigating campus violence under the direction of AVP Jeri Henry, locked their door and turned off their lights to prevent us from delivering a petition to them in the middle of a workday. AVP Henry told a survivor that she should leave Columbia because she asked for accommodations, adding to a documented history of AVP Henry bullying survivors of violence. And Title IX Coordinator Marjy Fisher, despite adamantly claiming she fights equally for all students regardless of identity, agreed to take a white survivor in our group to the Manhattan ADA to report her assaults but refused to take a Black survivor who asked to report as well, and has shown general anti-Black racial bias in her daily treatment of survivors in our group.

Now, more than ever, Columbia employees — particularly EVP Goldberg, AVP Henry, and Marjy Fisher — need to put our needs ahead of their egos and commit to enforcing the Title IX demands we have put forward.

We have fought for survivors every day since our group’s inception in 2014, exposing ourselves to constant harassment, discrimination, and in some cases, actual violence. Where have you been, Columbia? What will it take for you to do your job?

On Barnard's Plans for Interim Title IX Coordinator

We were deeply concerned to learn that while Barnard searches for a new Title IX coordinator, they will not have an interim replacement. Instead, they will allocate various Title IX duties to members of General Counsel (the lawyers paid to protect Barnard from lawsuits) and other administrators.

The Office for Civil Rights mandates schools have a designated Title IX coordinator at all times. Even if a school has multiple Title IX coordinators, one should have overarching authority. Answer C-3 from OCR's "Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence" mandates:

If a school designates more than one Title IX coordinator, the school’s notice of nondiscrimination and Title IX grievance procedures should describe each coordinator’s responsibilities, and one coordinator should be designated as having ultimate oversight responsibility.

Barnard is blatantly violating this guideline by not having a specific interim coordinator while they hire a new one, and instead, randomly allocating different Title IX duties to various, untrained employees.

Further, in allocating Title IX coordinator duties to members of General Counsel (employees whose sole interest is in protecting the college's public image), Barnard is intimidating students and preventing them from seeking necessary assistance. Answer C-4 in the aforementioned OCR FAQ specifically states:

Because some complaints may raise issues as to whether or how well the school has met its Title IX obligations, designating the same employee to serve both as the Title IX coordinator and the general counsel (which could include representing the school in legal claims alleging Title IX violations) poses a serious risk of a conflict of interest.

We call upon Barnard to designate one employee not from General Counsel as interim Title IX coordinator. Not having a specific Title IX coordinator is unacceptable, and allocating duties to General Counsel is a clear conflict of interest that silences student voices.

On the Columbia Wrestling Team

This week, the Columbia community came together as students dealt with the results of the Presidential Election. We created safe spaces, organized rallies, and brought down the walls that normally divide students . We seemed to be taking the advice of Secretary Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama when, rather than give into the hate and gloom spurned by this election, we comforted each other and looked to the future.

Bwog’s recent uncovering of GroupMe messages sent by the Columbia Men’s Wrestling team provides a glaring depiction of the reality of hate and ignorance on this campus—a reality that is hard to accept for many of us. The messages, from 2014 and 2015, were examples of the hate that women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and many other marginalized people face daily.

Equally as disturbing is the mockery of sexual assault that the wrestlers make in the messages. Columbia University is tied for the second-most open Title IX investigations with the Office of Civil Rights in the country and is the first school many think of when they hear thinking about sexual assault on college campuses; sexual assault is not a joke and should never be dismissed as one.

No Red Tape condemns the actions and behaviors of the Columbia Men’s Wrestling team and believes they should be held accountable for their words. We hope we, as a campus community, can use this incident to strengthen our commitment to prevention education and having discussions about inclusivity. Our nationwide discourse about justice and liberation begins with the rhetoric of those closest to us, and it is on all of us to hold each other accountable for bigotry.

We are in solidarity with everyone who has been affected by these messages. In light of the events that have unfolded this week, Columbia Psychological Services is holding extended walk-in hours. For more information, you can contact them at 212-854-2878.

Columbia Recording Policy

We were horrified to learn that Columbia University has changed its policies to prevent students from recording meetings and hearings with Student Conduct and Community Standards (SCCS), the office that deals with gender-based misconduct on campus. The policy, which students and their advisors are forced to sign prior to a meeting with SCCS, threatens disciplinary action if a student records a meeting.

Check out the document below, and please sign our petition to Jeri Henry (SCCS) here:

Goldberg's Appointment to Interim Title IX Coordinator

We were disturbed to discover yesterday morning that Columbia’s Executive Vice President of University Life, Suzanne Goldberg, is now Columbia’s acting Title IX coordinator. Title IX coordinators are supposed to help students exercise their Title IX rights, but Goldberg has time and time again cast sexual and dating violence survivors aside in favor of protecting Columbia’s image.

We find Goldberg’s appointment to Columbia’s interim Title IX coordinator, however temporary, to be an outrageous conflict of interest. In addition to creating and defending policies that fail to adhere to Title IX in their implementation, Goldberg serves as Columbia’s Rules Administrator, a job which gives her the power to discipline students who protest the gender-based misconduct policies she oversees. Now Goldberg is also the person students are supposed to turn to if Goldberg herself, or any offices she oversees, violate Title IX.

We demand Goldberg immediately step down from her role as acting Title IX coordinator and appoint an interim coordinator who has no vested interest in discouraging or inhibiting students from exercising their Title IX rights.