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Northwestern University Students Protest Administration For Weak Policies On Sexual Violence

Mar 05, 2014 | Updated Mar 05, 2014

A planned Tuesday sit-in of a class taught by a Northwestern University professor accused of sexual harassment turned into a protest of the university, with an estimated 70-plus students criticizing the administration's policies regarding sexual violence.

Students packed into a mid-day class taught by philosophy professor Peter Ludlow, who reportedly cancelled class early Tuesday in anticipation of the protest:

After the sit-in at Ludlow's class, students took their demonstration to the office of the dean of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences who refused to meet with students while "outside media" were present.

“We very much do appreciate our staff and faculty and students raising these issues and feel strongly that Northwestern is it please committed to responding fully to any complaints of sexual harassment and we value those things incorporated into Title IX."

Anger has been mounting on campus in the wake of lawsuits against the school and Ludlow. The student, who filed both suits, claims the administration failed to take proper action after she charged Ludlow made unwanted sexual advances toward her in 2012. According to WMAQ, the student says the professor kissed and groped her while she was intoxicated, eventually telling her "it's inevitable that we're going to have sex."

In Northwestern's formal response to the lawsuit, reviewed by The Huffington Post, the university admitted it did, in fact, determine Ludlow sexually harassed the student though denied the subsequent action was insufficient.

Last week, NU faculty sided with the student, launching a petition urging the NU's board of trustees to re-examine how the school handles issues of sexual violence, particularly when a faculty member stands accused.

The school maintained it already has proper policies in place for handling instances of sexual violence, though protesters said the policies don't go far enough. The protest's organizer, junior Laura Whittenburg, said at the demonstration, “We would like Northwestern to go above and beyond what is required by Title IX."

Sophomore Jessica Arnold told the crowd many survivors of sexual violence are still afraid to speak out on campus, according to The Daily Northwestern.

“When people do come forward and people are so brave," Arnold said, "no one will help them."

Meanwhile, a newly-created site of anonymous accounts of sexual violence experienced on NU's campus has been created in direct response to the Ludlow controversy.

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