Updated, 8:26 p.m.
On Tuesday afternoon, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand came to Columbia, CBS New York reported, to speak about the bipartisan letter she co-authored calling for $100 million in federal funding to make investigations and enforcement of sexual assault on campus more timely. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri also co-authored the letter, which was signed by 12 other senators.
Gillibrand was joined at the event by Zoe Ridolfi-Starr, CC '15, and Emma Sulkowicz, CC ’15, who discussed her own experience with sexual assault. Sulkowicz said that she was raped on the first day of her sophomore year and that she lost confidence in the University’s adjudication process when her attacker, who she said was also a suspect in two other sexual assaults, was never punished.
Sexual assault policy has been in the spotlight at Columbia since last semester, when the Columbia University College Democrats circulated a petition to make the adjudication policy more transparent. This semester, University President Lee Bollinger announced changes to the policy, including that Columbia would release data on how it adjudicates sexual assault and allow the University Senate to amend the President’s Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault. Administrators and students discussed their concerns at a town hall last month.
“When our young people go on to higher education, it should be an opportunity to learn, grow, pursue their dreams and prepare for their future careers,” Gillibrand said in a press release. “But the price of a college education should not include a 1 in 5 chance of being sexually assaulted. America’s colleges and universities are the best in the world. But it is simply unacceptable that they become havens for rape and sexual assault. It is time to take this crisis head on and end the scourge of sexual assault on our college campuses, hold offenders accountable, and keep our students safe.”