Student Alleges Brown University Let Her Attacker Return to Classes While She Was Still There

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
April 24 2014 11:52 AM

Student Alleges Brown University Let Her Attacker Return to Classes While She Was Still There

Anti-rape protesters.

Photo by NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images

Kate Dries at Jezebel reports on some troubling accusations that a Brown University student is leveling at the school: Brown allowed a man that its Student Conduct Board found responsible for sexual misconduct to attend the university alongside his victim. Last summer, Lena Sclove says she was sexually assaulted by a friend of hers, Daniel Kopin, that she had hooked up with in the past. She reported the assault to the university and later to the police. 

Amanda Marcotte Amanda Marcotte

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

Sclove alleges that the university mismanaged the problem from the beginning, setting the hearing date for Kopin a long two months after the alleged assault, during which time she had to go to classes living in dread that she would run into him. Eventually, they did have the hearing, as reported by the Brown Daily Herald

The Student Conduct Board, a group of students, deans and faculty members charged with holding and reviewing University disciplinary hearings, found Kopin was in violation of four items in the Student Conduct Code: (2a) “Actions that result in or can be reasonably expected to result in physical harm to a person or persons,” (5a) “Illegal possession or use of drugs and/or alcohol and/or drug paraphernalia,” (3a) “Sexual misconduct that involves non-consensual physical contact of a sexual nature” and (3b) “Sexual misconduct that includes one or more of the following: penetration, violent physical force or injury.”
Following the board’s analysis, the case was referred to Ward, who made the final disciplinary decision, Sclove said. Kopin was suspended from the University for one year. He is set to return in fall 2014.

This decision is baffling. Regardless of how serious you believe the penalties for sexual assault should be, the issue here is one of basic student safety. Brown believes Kopin sexually violated Sclove. So why on Earth would they think it's OK, ever, to put Sclove in a situation where she runs a high risk of running into him on campus while she attempts to finish her degree? "I still had two years left to finish my degree and was not going to be safe with those sanctions," Sclove wrote in her letter appealing their decision. No doubt! The primary job of a university is to create an environment conducive to learning for students. By exposing a student to daily fear of encountering her attacker, Brown is neglecting this most basic responsibility. 

Sclove may not feel supported by the Student Conduct Board, but luckily the students of Brown—who have a personal stake in having a school that takes safety seriously, after all—are rallying to Sclove's side. Sclove had a press conference with supporters backing her, and the school has already responded to student outrage:

In the hours following Sclove’s press conference, Margaret Klawunn, interim dean of the College and vice president for campus life and student services, sent out a campus-wide email announcing that the University’s sexual assault policy would be a focus of discussion at today’s Brown University Community Council meeting.
“Brown University takes issues of sexual assault and sexual misconduct with the utmost seriousness,” wrote Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and University relations, in an email to The Herald.

Let's hope they fix the problem, but it's hard to have much confidence. After all, letting someone you believe to be sexually violent come to your school where his victim is also a student defies basic common sense. It's going to take more than some promises to do better in the future to repair that. 

Update, June 4, 2014: This post has been updated to clarify that Brown University’s Student Conduct Board found Kopin to be “responsible” for sexual misconduct. The University has not alleged that Kopin committed rape, nor has Kopin been charged with a crime. Kopin has published a statement on the matter, available here



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?


Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.