Some Universities Still Not Taking Sexual Assault Seriously

Two lawsuits filed on April 20th allege that one university in particular has essentially given fraternity members a “free pass” when it comes to rape allegations, refusing to even investigate these incidents because they technically took place off-campus. This particular issue is by no means limited to one campus, nor is it a new issue; in fact, approximately a year ago, we discussed students being assaulted on college campuses and premises liability issues associated with these incidents. Unfortunately, evidence of progress on the issue is sorely lacking.


While students should always contact the police when an assault takes place, many fear potentially running into their assailants after the incident while they are on campus, mandating that universities do something to assuage those fears. However, according to complaints filed recently, this particular university refused to even look into the issues, supposedly because they only “cover behaviors that happen on campus and at university-sponsored events; which does not cover fraternity houses.”


Title IX Requirements

Aside from the criminal prosecutions that the perpetrators may face here, as well as any civil claims the victims may wish to bring against them, these particular lawsuits allege Title IX violations, claiming that the university discriminated against the victims due to their gender.


The United States Department of Education, which requires that universities investigate accusations of off-campus rape under Title IX, is also investigating what happened in these particular cases. Aside from the university very obviously violating the Department’s guidelines under Title IX, one could argue that they are, at the same time, also sending a dangerous message to fraternities that their members will not be held accountable for rape in terms of continuing as unpunished students at the university. In this instance, there are serious concerns that a failure to act will also lead to a hostile confrontation on campus, potentially endangering other students there. In this sense, the university has been put on notice about a potential hazard, and is now failing to take action to prevent it.


One of the students is especially frustrated because, as she pointed out, the university did decide to sanction one of the “off-campus” fraternities where a rape occurred for serving alcohol, indicating that it does hold some responsibility for what happens in and an ability to sanction these houses.


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If you have been hurt due to someone else’s negligence, we can help. Contact us today to speak with a personal injury attorney at our New Orleans practice.