Student outcry over sexual assaults on women and anonymously posted lists of alleged male rapists on bathroom walls has prompted Brown University to require special orientation seminars starting next fall for freshmen, an official said Friday.
The Ivy League university will also see to it that every student who comes forward with an assault or harassment complaint is provided with a trained advocate who will follow their case through, said Robert Reichley, executive vice president."The fact of the matter is there have been many mechanisms by which woman who have suffered any kind of assault or harassment could bring their case forward," Reichley said.
"What we are trying to do most is make sure that henceforth . . . we are going to, in addition, provide an advocate. That person will be there to provide help and counseling to whoever wishes to pursue a case, " he said.
The steps are being taken in the wake of a stormy forum on campus last week in which members of the audience - most of them women - criticized university officials for being insensitive and indifferent to the issues of sexual assault and harassment.
Much of the controversy that led to the forum came from an anonymously authored "rape list" that has appeared repeatedly on the walls of bathrooms on campus.
The list has contained as many as 30 names of male students who women allege raped them. In turn, men who have been named have complained to the university, though administration officials say there is little they can do because the charges against them have been made anonymously.
Reichley said the university sympathizes with the anger that women on campus feel, but he said the school in no way condones the list. Janitors have been scrubbing the list away when they find it and will continue to do so, he said.
"It is no more fair and just for women to write on a wall accusing men of a serious crime, and to do so anonymously, than it is for men to write the names of women on restroom walls and suggest they are available," Reichley said.
Reichley said the university will issue a lengthier announcement Monday on steps it plans to take regarding sexual assault and harassment on campus.