While some people may think of Buzzfeed as a fun site with listicals about 90s pop culture and tests to determine which cartoon character matches your personality; the site also includes some hard-hitting news. One article in particular may be the catalyst to saving someone’s life.
Anita Badejo’s in-depth report, “Our Hands Are Tied Because Of This Damn Brother-Sisterhood Thing” explored how sexual assault and rape victims from Spelman College are typically marginalized and blamed for their incidents resulting in their attackers rarely being brought to justice for their actions.
Based on the viral nature of the article, Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, president of Spelman College, has issued a statement addressing the schools plans to make sure it adheres to the use of Title IX–a law designed to ensure sexual violence is properly reported to specific school officials as well as the authorities.
“The Department of Education Office of Civil Rights notified Spelman of a Title IX complaint regarding a past incident. That complaint was followed by the circulation on social media of an article in Buzzfeed that brought to our attention other past incidents” said Campbell in her letter.
“The women who filed those complaints exhibited courage and fearlessness. At the same time, the circumstances that occasioned those complaints are unacceptable.”
Law requires that schools give victims the option to report their incident to local police. Within the Buzzfeed article, a student name Melanie said that in the midst of reporting her rape, the faculty handling her case did not make her aware of the Title IX guidelines and instead she was given instructions as to what to write on her report about her attack.
“I would not like [Atlanta Police Department] to handle this, or any other outside enforcement either.” For Spelman, she wrote, “I want the campus to handle this. I refuse to prosecute at this time.” Melanie said the officers told her that these statements were for ‘record purposes’ and could not be taken back.”
The article went on to share that the Title IX department’s job, “according to the Morehouse website, “helps the College to maintain its reputation…It also helps the College to avoid corporate scandals and to avoid harm to business operations from preventable legal matters.”
The Title IX departments at both institutions are small staffed and their job is less, “student advocate” and more of “perception protector”.
In response, Dr. Campbell said that Spelman is looking to increase its Title IX personnel which will include a faculty advisory committee, new dean of students and a new Title IX director. The school is also utilizing technology to make students aware of their rights.
We applaud Spelman for acknowledging the ongoing problem and taking the necessary steps to ensure the that every young woman feels safe on their campus.