Rape victim’s poster taken down twice at Virginia college

A poster that detailed the rape case of a College of William andMary student was twice taken down from campus grounds thismonth.

Samantha Collins said she was raped by a fellow William and Marystudent last October while attending a party at a fraternity house. The allegedrapist was found guilty at a school disciplinary hearing and was expelled fromthe school. The accused student, however, was never charged in a criminalcourt.

Collins said she decided to design the poster when she realizedthat her alleged assailant was now eligible to apply for readmission to theschool. Collins put up the poster in The University Center early this monthafter receiving permission from the school assembly.

The poster read”campus rape” at the top in large red letters and chronicled some of the eventsin her case since the rape, including what action was taken by theadministration. It also gave the name of her alleged attacker.

Collegeofficials took down the sign on Oct. 4, the same day it was put up. Theadministration said the poster violated The Family Educational Rights andPrivacy Act (FERPA), which prohibits the disclosure of student records by schoolofficials in some situations. In this case, school officials questioned herauthority to publish her assailant’s name.

The administration lateradmitted that they had erred in interpreting the law. The school repealed itsdecision and issued a formal apology to Collins.

Collins was told shecould put up the poster up again, which she did.

The student assemblytook the poster down again, three days after she put it back up.

According to Lindsay Burnett, president of the student assembly, theposter was taken down because, “some people took the poster as being vengeful,rather than seeing the policy problems that [she was] trying to address.”

Another student assembly member said she worried the poster could belibelous because it published the name of her alleged assailant although he wasnever convicted of a crime.

Collins said she will not challenge theschool assembly’s decision.

“I just wanted to bring attention to theissue of sexual assault through my case,” Collins said. She hopes that byspeaking out she is opening the road for other women to feel more comfortablereporting a rape to the school.