UConn president Susan Herbst addressed allegations raised in federal discrimination complaint against the university at a meeting of the UConn Board of Trustees on Wednesday and said she "completely rejects" the notion that the school doesn't adequately respond to reports of sex assault.
Seven women, who are current or former UConn students, filed the Title IX complaint on Monday, alleging the school has not properly investigated their reports of sexual assault and has failed to provide a safe learning environment.
High-profile attorney Gloria Allred filed the complaint on behalf of the women. Four of the complainants came forward on Monday to detail their experiences with UConn police and university officials after they had reported sexual assaults against them.
During the meeting on Wednesday, Herbst said it is "difficult" to hear UConn police painted as uncaring and rude and that allegations that UConn is indifferent to sex assault "has absolutely no basis in fact."
"This is a university that is devoting extraordinary resources toward preventing sexual violence in all its forms; to creating a safe environment for our students; and to providing countless resources for victims of sexual crimes. We do this so that they can receive not only the compassion and care they so desperately need, but the justice these insidious crimes demand, based on the evidence," Herbst said.
"Knowing that, and knowing the many UConn employees who have devoted their careers to protecting students and aiding victims, I completely reject the notion that UConn somehow doesn’t care about these all-important issues, because nothing could be further from the truth," Herbst continued.
Kylie Angell, a 2013 UConn graduate, said she was raped by a student in a dormitory. The accused student was expelled after a hearing, but later was allowed to return to campus and confronted her in a school cafeteria. Angell said she felt threatened and went to police.
"I fled the scene to the UConn Police Department. The officer told me 'Women need to stop spreading their legs like peanut butter, or rape is going to keep on happening until the cows come home,'" Angell said.
The UConn Board of Trustees is holding its regularly scheduled meeting this morning and Herbst said she cannot speak specifics on sex assault allegations because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act , or FERPA, a federal law that protects the privacy of student records.
FERPA not only applies to actual student records, but to the information contained in those records. Even though the students publicly discussed their cases at a press conference, that does not allow UConn – or any university -- to do the same. This is challenging for us, because we would like to be as transparent as possible in all we do," Herbst said.