Target: Christina Gonzales, University of Colorado Boulder Dean of Students
Goal: Demand justice for rape victims at University of Colorado Boulder
The Office of Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education is currently investigating University of Colorado Boulder for claims of sexual assault and violations of Title IX, the United States gender equality law. CU Boulder is one of many universities in the United States currently under scrutiny by the Office of Civil Rights for failing to respond adequately to reports of sexual violence.
A female CU Boulder student, Sarah Gilchriese, reported being sexually assaulted by a fellow student. Although he was found guilty of the rape, it took four weeks for the attacker to be reprimanded and removed from the campus. During the time while the guilty student remained on campus, he approached Gilchriese on multiple occasions, causing great discomfort for Gilchriese and making her feel every unsafe on her campus.
Despite being found guilty of rape, the attacker’s punishment was only an eight-month suspension, after which he would be able to return to the school. Gilchriese, uncomfortable knowing that her attacker would return, attempted to appeal but was denied by CU Boulder. Gilchriese was able to get a restraining order from the town court instead, and the attacker is not allowed to be on campus until she graduates.
In this scenario, Gilchriese was forced to take complicated and lengthy steps to feel safe on her own campus because her university denied her right to freedom from contact with her attacker. Rather than ensuring that Gilchriese would never again come in contact with the man who sexually assaulted her, the school gave her attacker a light punishment and refused to act further to provide justice for their student. Putting this type of pressure on a victim of sexual assault only aggravates the trauma and health concerns that exist after an incidence of sexual violence, and the university should be taking much more dramatic steps to ensure that any victims of rape feel completely safe and they should know without a doubt that the university is on their side.
By signing the petition below you will be demanding that the University of Colorado Boulder create new policies that truly protect the physical, mental, and emotional health of its students, and particularly any students who are victims of sexual assault.
Dear Dean Christina Gonzalez,
No student that is a victim of rape should ever feel that he or she is not supported by the university, particularly when it comes to that student’s safety. It is the duty of all universities to protect their students and prevent any mental, emotional, or physical harm.
I am writing you to demand that you change the policies regarding sexual assault at University of Colorado Boulder. The manner with which you handled the sexual assault of Sarah Gilchriese is astonishing and will not be tolerated. It is never appropriate for a student to feel that she is unsafe on her own campus because the school is unwilling to ensure her protection from her rapist. Your disregard for her personal health and a truly just punishment for her attacker was inhumane and cannot continue. It is the responsibility of your university to stand on the side of the victims, not the attacker, and I hope in the future you will act differently in order to do so.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Bildungsroman via Wikimedia Commons