Many are aware of the high academic prestige that goes hand in hand with Columbia University: an Ivy League in New York; however, not everyone is as familiar with its history of sexual predators. For Amelia Roksin-Frazee, that statistic hits close to home. The sophomore is taking matters into her own hands and suing Columbia University for their failure to support her after she reported being raped twice in her very own dorm room.
Amelia was first raped when she was a freshman. She was violently awoken from her sleep to find herself trapped, stomach down, while a man straddled her back. At first, Amelia was scared to report the incident as she was unsure of her attacker’s identity. Instead, she sought medical attention and reached out to the Sexual Violence Response Hotline. The hotline told her that if she were to move out of her housing, she’d have to pay $500 among other things. Ultimately, she opted to stay in her dorm and reported her case to the Vice President of Columbia’s University Life Department. However, the school never followed through with their policy which requires them to report the case to the Gender-Based Misconduct Office.
While the complaint was left untouched, Amelia was forced to struggle through her day to day life and cope with feelings of inadequacy and worthiness (commonly experienced by rape victims). Just when she was at her lowest point, Amelia was raped a second time in her dorm room. She was gagged with her own shorts and her wrists were tied with her iPhone charger. Her rapist then continued to penetrate her with various objects he found around the room like a hairbrush and pair of scissors. The complaint states he also taunted her by saying “still a dyke?” The next day, a very traumatized Amelia requested medical attention at St. Luke’s Hospital. Her vagina was torn, her thighs cut, and both her wrists were broken. Not only was Amelia physically in shambles, her mental health and confidence were in even worse condition.
Following the attack, Amelia was haunted by notes, teasing her about the rape, saying things such as “Isn’t if tun to wake up to someone fucking you?”
At this point, Amelia had had enough and turned to Columbia officers for help; however, they claimed their hands were tied unless she could identify her attacker. Amelia could do nothing but suffer through the everyday pain and misery of knowing her attacker was walking free on campus. Her grades have slipped since and she’s avoided any sort of social interaction or participation in college activities. Thankfully, Amelia is a fighter and is trying to find justice by suing Columbia for their neglect towards her situation.
While this case alone is particularly heinous, it’s not the first time Columbia has failed to carry through with their responsibilities on the behalf of a student.
In 2012 a Senior at Columbia named Emma Sulkowicz was raped by German student Paul Nungesser while she was unconscious. Ultimately, though Emma filed an official complaint, Columbia dropped all charges in 2013 with the claim that there wasn’t enough proof. Emma, still emotionally scarred and desperate for justice, used her thesis project as an outlet and to keep the conversation alive. It was called “Mattress Performance (Carry that Weight)” and consisted of Emma carrying a mattress wherever she went around campus. This project prompted several other victims to come forth and tell their stories.
Emma, along with 23 other students, sued Columbia that year for mishandling their sexual assault complaints.
Following Emma’s thesis project, her rapist, Paul Nungesser, had the audacity to attempt to sue Columbia for not preventing her from carrying the mattress, which he claimed was a form of bullying. Fortunately, his case was dropped.
Currently, Columbia’s reputation regarding sexual assault cases is receiving very poor ratings. Apparently, their high standards for academics don’t transfer over to behavioral expectations.
To learn more about Amelia visit her website at aroskinfrazee.com.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of rape, visit RapeCrisis.org for more information, or call the 24-hour crisis hotline at 021-447-9762.