HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK)—Some Marshall University students held a protest at noon on Friday, Nov. 18.
Earlier Friday morning, a group of students met with Marshall University President Brad Smith to discuss Title IX concerns.
The protest and discussion come after a USA Today story that highlighted a sexual assault case stemming from a 2016 incident involving Marshall students. The piece is part of a series of stories from the publication critical of colleges’ handling of Title IX-related issues.
Despite being accused of sexual assault in 2016, the former Marshall University student remained enrolled until June 2019. At the time he was facing new sexual assault charges, and in 2020 he was convicted.
In an email to students on Thursday, Nov. 17, Smith addressed the USA Today article. He wrote, “Since the time of the 2018 case, Marshall took multiple steps to strengthen its policies and procedures … Over the past several months, we have been working on restructuring the Title IX Office.”
Marshall University student Bex Law, who organized the protest, said the article prompted a greater push to speak up about the need to better Marshall University’s Title IX procedures.
“I think the article definitely inspired a lot of passion and invigoration to get things moving right now, but like I said before, we are students now, there will be students in the future and no one should ever feel unsafe on campus,” Law said.
E. Bowen, another Marshall University student, said the Title IX Office, which is supposed to address cases of sexual assault, sexual harassment and gender discrimination, didn’t just fail previous students.
“I didn’t even pursue anything with Title IX because I knew the stories,” Bowen said. “I knew that they don’t really care, and I’ve heard horror stories from so many of my friends from the moment I came on campus. So, I felt like it wasn’t worth my time.”
Sam Green, a sexual assault victim and Marshall University student, said the university needs to improve policies and be more transparent.
“Even if there’s reform within the Title IX office there needs to be a lot of community building, a lot of conversations with students about ‘hey this is what we’re doing better, keep giving us feedback,'” Green said. “This is going to be a year long process for students to actually feel safe here again.”
The university said they plan to set up a Title IX Committee to address students’ concerns, but no specifics have been released.