Rape victim’s poster taken down twice at William and Mary

VIRGINIA — Aposter that detailed the rape case of a College of William and Mary student wastwice taken down from campus grounds this month.Samantha Collins saidshe was raped by a fellow William and Mary student last October while attendinga party at a fraternity house. The alleged rapist was found guilty at a schooldisciplinary hearing and was expelled from the school. The accused student,however, was never charged in a criminal court.Collins said she decidedto design the poster when she realized that her alleged assailant was noweligible to apply for readmission to the school. Collins put up the poster inThe University Center early this month after receiving permission from theschool assembly. The poster read “campus rape” at the top in large redletters and chronicled some of the events in her case since the rape, includingwhat action was taken by administration. It also gave the name of her attacker.College officials took down the sign on Oct. 4, the same day it was put up. Theadministration said the poster violated The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act(FERPA), which prohibits the disclosure of student records by school officials insome situations. In this case, school officials questioned her authority topublish her assailant’s name.The administration later repealed theirdecision and issued a formal apology to Collins.The policy change cameafter Daniel Carter, vice president of the campus security watch group Securityon Campus, wrote to William and Mary president Timothy Sullivan to inform him ofan amendment to FERPA that allows universities to disclose “final results” ofdisciplinary hearings when the student in question is found guilty of breakingschool rules in commission of a violent crime. Carter also sent a letter to theDepartment of Education, urging it to make the amendment clear toschools.Bill Walker, vice president for public affairs for theuniversity, said the school issued an apology to Collins on Oct. 10. He said thecollege was not aware of the amendment to FERPA. “When we found out that therewas a later amendment to that law we felt that we owed the student an apologybecause we had acted in error,” Walker said.Collins was told she couldput up the poster up again, which she did. The student assembly took the posterdown again, three days after she put it back up. According to LindsayBurnett, president of the student assembly, the poster was taken down because,”some people took the poster as being vengeful, rather than seeing the policyproblems that [she was] trying to address.” Another student assembly member saidshe worried the poster could be libelous because it published the name of herassailant although he was never convicted.Collins’ handwritten postercaused too much controversy, Burnett said, so it would be replaced with acomputer-generated one that will provide information about groups near campusthat help sexual assault victims.Collins said she will notchallenge the school assembly’s decision. “I just wanted to bringattention to the issue of sexual assault through my case,” Collins said. Shehopes that by speaking out she is opening the road for other women to feel morecomfortable reporting a rape to the school.