Last May, thousands of students from the University of Vermont (UVM) organized a Survivors Solidarity Walkout to protest the university's handling of on-campus sexual assault.
Students claimed that UVM administrators did not do enough to protect students and mishandled investigations. UVM's Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Office is at the center of the allegations, responsible for handling sexual assault and Title IX violations.
UVM President Suresh Garimella acknowledged student concerns and agreed to a list of 17 demands made by students. Among them was a call into an investigation of the Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Office. UVM agreed to an independent audit and hired Grand River Solutions, an external consulting firm, to conduct it.
Although the audit is now complete, UVM announced its refusal to release the report to the public, sparking another round of outrage.
Does UVM Have Anything to Hide?
Universities facing criticism of how they handle on-campus sexual assault cases seek to minimize the damage that leaked information can wreak on their reputation. These institutions also try to work with students to improve their internal processes to avoid future issues. In this case, the cat is already out of the bag, and refusing to release the report won't help improve UVM's reputation.
The main driver behind the protest is the allegation that Title IX investigators are mishandling cases. Since students asked for an independent investigation into the Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Office, withholding the audit's findings only leads to further mistrust. If UVM doubles down on its insistence to keep the report under wraps, the school may soon face legal issues that it cannot avoid. This insistence is alarming, not only for victims but for those wrongfully accused of sexual assault.
UVM's Caroline Shelly, the Title IX Student Advisory Committee chair, disagrees with withholding results. Shelly mentioned that her committee would ask for the report's release during a meeting scheduled for the end of this month. It remains unclear whether UVM will agree and assuage fears of the future mishandling of Title IX cases.
What This Means for Accused Students
Students accused of sexual misconduct and facing Title IX investigations deserve the same rights afforded to accusers. False allegations are certainly not unheard of, and they have the potential to destroy an innocent student's life and reputation. UVM's Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Office must take steps to address the public's concerns or risk ruining lives due to its lack of judgment.
If you are a student at UVM facing allegations of sexual misconduct, do not hesitate to contact attorney Joseph D. Lento. Attorney Lento has years of experience expertly handling Title IX cases and helping students accused of wrongdoing. With Attorney Lento's help, students don't have to be under the mercy of university administrations that do not handle Title IX cases appropriately.
Call the Lento Law Firm today for a discreet consultation at 888-535-3686.