Their attackers walk free.
Fordham administrators investigated and sought to prosecute only three of the seven student-against-student sexual offense cases that were reported at Rose Hill in 2013, according to school data obtained by Fordham Daily.
The complainants in the remaining four cases requested that Fordham not punish their attackers and “declined a Title IX student conduct process,” according to Christopher Rodgers, dean of students at Rose Hill.
There were a total of 13 cases of sexual offense — a term that ranges from unwanted touching to rape — reported to Public Safety at Rose Hill in 2013. Six cases involved non-Fordham students, and were therefore beyond the university’s prosecuting jurisdiction.
Public Safety gathered information about each of the cases except for one in which the complainant declined to speak to school officials, Rodgers said. Sexual offense numbers for 2014 have not yet been made public.
School officials “attempt to honor and abide by a person’s wishes” if a complainant reports a sexual offense committed by another student and then asks that the university not investigate the case, according to Fordham’s Title IX Grievance Procedures for Reporting Complaints of Sexual Misconduct.
“By honoring such a request, the university will not be able to meaningfully investigate and pursue disciplinary or student conduct proceedings to find anyone responsible for the violation,” the document reads.
Fordham officials reserve the right, however, to act against a complainant’s request if they feel the accused attacker obstructs the “university’s obligation to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for the entire community.”
Each of the student requests for a discontinued investigation were honored by Fordham in 2013, data shows.
Nicholas Sawicki, USG’s vice president of Rose Hill and co-chair of the organization’s Sexual Misconduct Task Force, said, given the national statistics, he was not surprised by the number of cases left unprosecuted on Fordham’s campus.
“I’m disheartened because we, as a society, have not fostered a culture where we can have people come forward and feel OK to talk about what’s happened to them,” he said.
Sawicki said there are a number of reasons why complainants may decline to have Fordham seek to prosecute their accused attackers, including fears of retribution, public shaming and social isolation.
But through his work on the task force, which was established in September, Sawicki said he has found no reason to believe Fordham’s administration or campus community inhibits complainants from seeking investigations into their cases.
“I would encourage any survivor of sexual assault within the Fordham community to come forward and seek an investigation as guaranteed by university policies,” he said.
Fordham Daily reported last February that Fordham had reported more cases of sexual offense between 2010 and 2012 than any other Jesuit college during the same time period.