Nov. 24th, 2008

eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (Default)
The Department of Education has finally ruled that university gag orders on rape victims -- if you want us to investigate, you can't talk to anyone, even your parents -- are, who would have thought, violations of federal law. UVA said this was about protecting student privacy, and necessary to comply with FERPA, but fortunately the Department of Education finally saw through that. (Don't read the comments on the article; it will hurt.)

The case was based on a University of Virginia rule, but UVA is hardly the only place that has had such a requirement -- several American universities have attempted to protect their reputation as "safe" at the expense of rape victims, who are sometimes told by boards of inquiry that they can be expelled for talking about their cases. If protecting the reputation of the university involves harming rape victims, so be it.1

Other relevant links:
A story at the SAFER blog in which an Adelphi University alum talks about the obstacles to reporting rape, and her university's gag order.
Abyss2Hope's discussion of some of the social consequences of the gag order.



1 At my undergraduate university, in fact, various administrators frequently tried to keep women from reporting sexual assault -- one administrator tried to get rid of the anonymous sexual assault help line; she said that the rape counselor had to get the student's name and make her name her assailant or she couldn't take the call. This might've been legally true, I dunno, but there was no excuse for this: When this drove down the number of calls significantly, she then tried to use it as evidence of a reduced rate of sexual assault on campus, claiming that my university was one of the safest in the state.

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