Hundreds of students at Virginia Tech Tuesday protested the university’s handling of a recent sexual assault claim after a female student said she was suspended for verbally abusing a male student she accused of raping her.
The group of hundreds of protesters marched through campus Tuesday, some shouting “Title IX excuses crime” before ending at the university’s Title IX office and handing over a list of demands to reform how the school handles reports of sexual assault, according to The Roanoke Times.
The protest stemmed from a post on Twitter from student Rachel Bailey, who wrote: “shoutout to Virginia Tech for finding my rapist not guilty and for putting ME on deferred suspension for SELF DEFENSE. I’ve never been more disappointed to be a Hokie."
shoutout to Virginia Tech for finding my rapist not guilty and for putting ME on deferred suspension for SELF DEFENSE. i’ve never been more disappointed to be a hokie.— rachel bailey (@rlbbailey) April 23, 2019
Bailey reported the alleged sexual assault to the Title IX office in December, accusing a male fellow student of assaulting her.
The male student, in turn, accused her of being verbally abusive to him, which ended up with her receiving a deferred suspension.
She added that the male student involved was suspended and banned from campus due to an unrelated drug arrest, The Roanoke Times noted.
Virginia Tech President Tim Sands sent a letter to the campus community Tuesday addressing the school’s handling of sexual assault cases, but it did not mention Bailey’s claims specifically.
“No one should have to live in fear of sexual assault on a college campus,” Sands wrote. “As survivors know all too well, such an experience will alter one’s life forever. For students, the trauma can significantly affect their ability to focus on learning and be an engaged member of the campus community."
University spokesman Mark Owczarski also did not comment to The Roanoke Times about specifics regarding Bailey’s claims but said the university stands behind the students' right to protest.
“We encourage people’s voices to be heard and when they do have concerns to express them,” he said.
Virginia Tech and its Title IX office did not immediately reply to requests for comment from The Hill.