Sexual Assaults on Campus: Survivor Alumni at Elite Universities Unite

Lisa Paige

Lisa Paige

We are urging alumni not to donate to the capital campaign
until we see some serious, significant change.
That’s what alumni are for.
– Lisa Paige, Harvard alumnae

Survivor alumni from twenty elite colleges and universities are connecting today via conference call to end sexual assaults on college campuses.  In six weeks, their coalition has grown from just three schools:  Dartmouth College, Occidental College, and Harvard.  Their leader is Lisa Paige, who experienced sexual assault during her last semester at Harvard.  She is now president of the Alumnae Network for Harvard Women.  She said on CBS This Morning:

There have been enough task forces, there have been enough studies at Harvard and all the other colleges and universities across the country.  So, right now, we are urging alumni not to donate to the capital campaign until we see some serious, significant change.  That’s what alumni are for. We have institutional memory and we should be at the table. . .concerning this issue.  We know what’s been going on. . .for decades.

We aren’t demanding changes.  In fact, we are encouraging a dialogue between alumni and college officials because in that way we believe solutions will emerge.

Sexual assault is. . .institutionalized gender bias. . .young men who think they are able to take what they want.

On Saturday, May 31, the Alumnae Network for Harvard Women will be sponsoring Surviving Silence, a reunion event for survivors of gender violence.  The message is “You are not alone.  Stand with Survivors.”  Surviving Silence was launched by Harvard Women to break down the walls of silence.

Andrea Pino and Annie E. Clark

Andrea Pino and Annie E. Clark

We made it not just about U.N.C.;
we made it a national issue.
We were a microcosm of what we are seeing across the country, and
we have seen a groundswell of survivors coming out and
also filing complaints.
– Annie E. Clark

According to Bloomberg, the survivor network was launched after the U.S. Department of Education announced an investigation into 55 elite universities which failed to effectively stop sexual assaults on campus.  A complaint had been filed in 2010 by Wendy Murphy, an attorney in Boston.

Annie E. Clark and Andrea Pino, who are sexual assault survivors and alumnae of the University of North Carolina, ramped up the heat with an unannounced visit to Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY).  The duo are founders of End Rape on Campus which boldly declares that rapists have met their match!  The New York Times reported:

Over the past two years, students have organized protests and given one another legal advice through social media.  They have waged a grass-roots but sophisticated lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers spent the past year in intense debate about how to handle the issue of sexual assault in the military and long for legislation that can attract bipartisan support. Victims of sexual assault, once stigmatized, are gaining courage to challenge institutions publicly, representing a generational and cultural shift.

Elizabeth Amini

Elizabeth Amini

Nobody wants to donate to a school where people are being raped.
– Elizabeth Amini, Occidental College alumnae

Elizabeth Amini, who is well-known for anti-aging brain game techniques, withdrew her intent to make a seven-figure donation to her alma mater Occidental after she learned that a sexual assault perpetrator had been given a slap on the wrist.

Gretchen Wetzel

Gretchen Wetzel

Over 25% of donations ($9 billion) to colleges and universities come from alumni.  Gretchen Wetzel, who was one of the first women to graduate from Dartmouth, was sexually assaulted on campus.  She and her ex-husband have donated more than $1 million to Dartmouth.  No more.  She told Bloomberg:

I’m very concerned with what’s going on with sexual assault on campus.  I’d rather see my money go to a specific area [$80,000 pledge to Triangle House, a residential hall for LGBT students] where Dartmouth is doing something positive, instead of a general pot.


At today's graduation ceremonies, Harvard graduates wore crimson tape on their mortarboards to protest sexual assaults.

At today’s graduation ceremonies, Harvard graduates wore crimson tape on their mortarboards to support survivors and protest sexual assaults.
Thank you, Kenny Jarels for posting this on FB.

Today’s conference call will include alumni from Amherst, Barnard College, Brown University, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, George Washington University, Hanover College, Harvard University, Occidental College, Swarthmore College, Williams College, the University of Chicago, the University of Southern California, and Yale University.

Related links and posts:

End Rape on Campus

Alumni Are Creating A Network To Put Pressure On Universities Over Sexual Assault, by Tyler Kingkade, HuffingtonPost, 5/28/14

Alumni in U.S. Fighting Sexual Assault Push for Change, by John Lauerman, Bloomberg/Business Week, 5/19/14

Behind Focus on College Assaults, a Steady Drumbeat by Students, by Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times, 4/29/14

Colleges Under Fire for Handling of Sexual Assault Cases, by Rachel Axon, USA Today, 4/25/14 [in-depth report about how Annie E. Clark and Andrea Pino launched End Rape on Campus and filed Title IX complaints]

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