Yesterday, we joined our colleagues at the Fierberg National Law Group and Herman, Herman, and Katz to file a suit on behalf of a sexual assault survivor who never wants another student to go through what she did. Our client, who goes by the pseudonym Jane Doe in the complaint filed in the Eastern District of Louisiana, was a student at Dillard University, a historically Black university in Louisiana. Her freshman spring, Jane was raped by a former Dillard summer student and frequent campus visitor. It wasn’t until months later that she learned the same man had raped a classmate in the very same dorm – and that Dillard, despite the first survivor’s report, had done nothing to protect its students from him. The school kept up its pattern of apathy and inaction when, after Jane told Dillard that she was being harassed by her assailant and his friends because she had reported him, they took no action to protect her.
After the rape and harassment, Jane dropped out of school. If only Dillard had investigated the report, banned the alum from campus, and issued a timely warning to its students – as it is required by law to do – Jane would now be in the classroom.
I’m so in awe of Jane, who is standing up for herself and for other students. Too often, schools shrug off their legal and ethical responsibility to address reports of sexual harassment, including rape. Unfortunately, some colleges will only change their ways when survivors speak up and hold them accountable. And I’m glad that Jane is shining light on these problems at a historically Black university, since these schools are too often left out of our national conversation about campus sexual assault.