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Fourth Title IX complaint opens against College

Waverly Hart
News Editor

On Nov. 17, 2017, a fourth Title IX investigation was opened against The College of Wooster. The complaint alleges that the College did not respond promptly to a report of sexual assault and failed to fully address retaliation from peers.

The complaint, which was filed by Colleen Gilfether ’18, consists of two separate allegations of discrimination on the basis of sex raised against the College. The Office of Civil Rights will investigate the following issues:

“1. Whether the College provided a prompt and equitable response to sexual harassment and retaliatory-harassment complaints, reports and/or other incidents of which it had notice.

2. Whether the College interfered with or limited the ability of a student to participate in or benefit from the services, activities or privileges provided by the College by effectively causing, encouraging, accepting, tolerating or failing to correct a sexually hostile environment of which it had actual or constructive notice.”

Gilfether filed the complaint because she thought the College had mishandled the sexual assault case she reported on Sept. 29, 2016. Gilfether’s complaint claims that the College did not make the necessary accommodations after the sexual assault. One of Gilfether’s biggest issues was that her assailant wasn’t removed from a class they shared. She claims she asked the College numerous times to remove her assailant from her class, but instead, two weeks away from the end of the semester, the administration removed Gilfether.

“The obligation should not rest on me, personally, to sort that out. It is a requirement of the school’s Title IX office to seek accommodations for me, which should not include removing me from the class,” said Gilfether.

Additionally, Gilfether filed her complaint because of the College’s inability to address peer harassment.

“I had experienced an instance of peer harassment that the school had failed to respond to … The school was asking me about how I was going to change my behavior, so they assumed that it was my fault, that I had caused this peer harassment to happen,” Gilfether said.

After Gilfether reported her sexual assault, Lori-Makin Byrd became Title IX Coordinator.

“I think that many staff and students have worked hard to increase the visibility … the availability of reporting and support resources and the clarity and transparency of any investigation process … My hope is also that … everyone would feel free to share any feedback with me as we move forward,” Makin-Byrd said.

Gilfether said she had seen a change under the new coordinator.

“I think Lori is far more understanding of emotional burdens that come with something like this and compassionate … and to have an improvement like that, I think is a big one,” Gilfether said.

The Office of Civil Rights is currently in the process of investigating four separate Title IX complaints against the college, most of which make similar allegations.

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