Mara Louk anticipated school administrators to assist her in filing a police report and arranging a safety plan when she notified an administrator at Visible Music College, where she was a senior, that a male classmate had suffocated and raped her last November.
Instead, she claims that administrators at Visible, a Christian college in Memphis, Tennessee, accused her of breaking school rules banning premarital sex with a different student, an ex-boyfriend, in a federal complaint filed with the US Department of Education on Wednesday. She denied having sex with him, but claimed that the school threatened to expel her unless she signed a confession and completed the school year online.
Administrators at Visible Music College also told her that because the accused student was not arrested, they would not remove him from her classes, nor would they undertake a Title IX inquiry because the alleged assault occurred off campus. Louk claimed that administrators tried to prevent her from alerting anyone else at the school that she had been raped.
“Why did I even speak up?” I wondered. Louk, a 22-year-old man, stated. “For a long time, that’s exactly how I felt because everything seemed to be getting worse.”
Louk’s complaint requests that the Department of Education investigate Visible Music College twice. The Clery Act, a federal campus safety legislation that mandates universities to inform students who report a sexual offence of their rights and help alternatives, will be examined. The other would look into whether the school discriminated against Louk in violation of Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on gender.
According to Louk’s complaint, “Visible has retaliated against Mara in multiple ways.” “Rather than investigating the rape and supporting Mara, Visible punished her for speaking out.”
“Any victim would be discouraged from coming forward after that,” Louk’s attorney Cari Simon remarked.
The college has refused to comment on the charges made in the lawsuit. Visible’s president, Ken Steorts, said the school couldn’t comment on student problems since he hadn’t seen a copy of the complaint, but that “Visible will assist with any examination of the charges contained in the complaint.”
The Department of Education said it couldn’t comment on the accusations because they were still being investigated.
The Education Department is poised to release a new set of proposed Title IX regulations next month, prompting Louk’s protest. Many of the Trump-era Title IX provisions, which were opposed by victims’ rights activists, civil rights organisations, university administrators, and trade groups representing K-12 schools, are expected to be drastically altered by the regulations.
The Biden administration should overturn a rule that tells institutions to disregard Title IX complaints of alleged sexual misconduct that occurs off campus, according to victims’ advocates. Assaults in students’ apartments are excluded, and the impact on victims who share classes and other activities with their perpetrator is ignored, according to advocates.
Many colleges have found ways to investigate off-campus assaults through other student conduct policies, but “there are some that have clung very devoutly to this notion that it’s not my problem,” said Jody Shipper, a consultant who previously oversaw the University of California system’s compliance with laws regulating its handling of sexual misconduct.