Columbia Student Group Advertises School’s Inadequate Sexual Assault Policies to Prospective Students

April 13, 2015 | Prachi Gupta

No Red Tape Columbia, the activist organization devoted to ending sexual violence on Columbia University’s campus, projected the phrases “Rape happens here” and “Columbia protects rapists” onto Low Library during a visiting weekend for prospective students.

The Columbia Spectator reports:

“It was all so unreal,” Evan Caplinger, a prospective student, said. “It was the juxtaposition of the school spirit and this striking message against the school. It was invective against the administration and it’s policies.”

After prospective students left the event in Low Library and headed toward buses on Amsterdam Avenue for a tour of the city, No Red Tape members were allowed to begin projecting the text on the library again. The text—which was projected by Illuminator, a politically-oriented arts collective that paired with the group as one of its many collaborative art projects—read “Columbia has a rape problem,” “President Bollinger: Carry that weight,” “We deserve a safe campus,” and “Do you want a rapist as your RA?”

The university’s policy towards investigating sexual assaults has come under public scrutiny in recent years thanks to student Emma Sulkowicz, an alleged rape survivor who began carrying a mattress as a symbol of the burden she carries. Sulkowicz’s activism prodded the college to update its policies in 2014, but activists on campus argue it hasn’t done enough. Columbia is also under investigation by the DOE for potential violations of Title II and Title IX regarding sexual harassment and sexual violence.

No Red Tape Columbia was founded by senior Zoe Ridolfi-Starr. “We needed a group that isn’t about playing nice but can challenge the University and is willing to put the two things they care about on the line, which is money and reputation,” she told the Spectator late last year. “If they’re not going to care about our safety, we are going to figure out what they care about, and we figured it out, and it’s money and reputation.”

The group has timed coordinated at least 4 other protests with undergrad admissions events, which irritated the school enough to send the students involved warning letters from the Office of Judicial Affairs.

(Photo: RickAAguilar)