Columbia University has come under serious scrutiny for its handling of campus sexual-assault allegations lately. Legal complaints have been filed. Tell-alls have been written. And now, unsatisfied students are taking to the school's walls, sharing the names of alleged assaulters.
In recent weeks, 23 students at Columbia and sister institution Barnard College have filed federal complaints saying that the university mishandled their sexual-assault cases. Almost 100 faculty members have signed on to a letter demanding reforms of the school's conduct system to better accommodate victims. And several students have related their horrible stories—of being raped by an acquaintance, then grilled by a university panel on sexual mechanics—in school publications.
But beginning last Thursday, unknown parties on Columbia's campus took matters into their own hands, slipping into bathrooms in three different buildings and scrawling lists of accused students across the walls.
It began in Hamilton Hall, a prominent classroom building near the dorms, last Thursday. A list of four students was found in a stall with the heading "Sexual Assault Violators on Campus." According to the Columbia Lion, which broke the news, "There were four distinct styles of handwriting, which suggests multiple authors."
Custodians quickly erased the graffiti artists' handiwork. But last night the same list popped up in a women's-room stall in a first-floor eatery in Lerner Hall, the campus student center. Its heading was "Rapists on Campus."
This morning, similar graffiti with the same list was found in two bathrooms on different floors in Butler Library, the main study center on campus. Bwog, another campus publication, also states that flyers with the information were found in several of the buildings' bathrooms:
An open debate as to who could be responsible for the writings—and how legitimate their tactics are—has opened up in those publications' comments, and I imagine we'll have another such lively discussion below. For its part, the university administration has said only that the wall-writers could potentially face simple conduct discipline for undertaking property damage.