Cornish College Students Protest Sexual Assault On Campus

Students at Cornish College of the Arts walked out of class on October 15, 2018, in protest of their school allowing perpetrators of sexual assault to stay on campus.

For about 90 minutes, around 70 protestors stood at the intersection of Lenora Street and Terry Avenue to raise awareness of their concerns to the school administrators. Students were heard chanting, “Protect victims, not predators.” Some walked to the President of the school’s office.

Raymond Tymas-Jones, President of the Cornish College, listened to the student’s pleas while taking notes and asking questions in hope to improve the school’s response to sexual assault.

“You’ve had to contend with situations that sound intolerable,” he said to Seattle Times.

During the meeting, students cited negative experiences and their goal of making the college more transparent on how sexual assault cases are handled. They wanted the school to take a more definitive role in preventing sexual assault from happening, such as a providing clear explanation of consequences and better training for resident advisers.

President Jones called for an investigation into what causes sexual assault at Cornish in reply to the protest and would work to form a student committee.

One of the student’s main concern is with the aftermath of a reporting.

Students from Cornish College of the Arts peacefully assembled for a protest lasting approximately 90 minutes. They asked for greater clarification on how the College handled Title IX complaints and met with the President today. https://t.co/cT4SbsdcuX

— Cornish College (@CornishCollege) October 15, 2018

Rachel Pacelli is a senior majoring in theater and has once reported a student for sexual misconduct. The school found the student she reported and was placed on probation. The perpetrator was then required to take an online anti-harassment course and meet with a student success coach. Despite that, Pacelli claims that she saw him again in her class for the past month, even when school administrators promise that it wouldn’t happen.

“Every single time I see him, my stomach drops,” Pacelli said. “It’s not about revenge, it’s about holding people accountable.”

Spokeswoman Rosemary Jones said that this “no contact” policy is indeed an order that is given to Cornish students, but it doesn’t mean that students will not share the same class.

School administrators say that Cornish has many classes where students must be open and intimate with each other, such as theater. Also with the fact that the college is rather small, the chances of students who have had traumatic experiences with another would run into each other are high.

President Jones told students he took their concerns seriously.

“I don’t want this to go on another year,” he said. “It’s going to take us a moment or two to get this solved, but I’m going to work on it.”

Cornish is a private art college that currently enrolls around 628 students. It has campus buildings in Capitol Hill and Seattle Center, with its main campus and administrative offices located in South Lake Union.

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