#MeTooPurdue is a growing group of students demanding change from administrators in regard to sexual assault on campus.
The students have three main demands: The removal of two administrators who they say mishandled a 2017 sexual assault case, more funding for on-campus resources, and a change to the rules of reporting assault. The group had a protest on campus Friday afternoon.
Charlotte Russell, the founder and president of #MeTooPurdue, said, “We would like to see them removed from their positions because we feel they are not serving their place following this case and that is just something we are going to continue to fight for.”
The group is calling for Katie Sermersheim and Alysa Rollock to resign after a jury trial found Purdue University retaliated against a female student after she reported a sexual assault in 2017. She was suspended for making a false allegation, but the jury said she was not given enough of an opportunity to be heard during the investigation.
Beth Kelley, the public and human relations chair of #MeTooPurdue, said, “I think every college has an issue, Purdue definitely being one of them, and, yeah, it definitely has an issue. It’s an issue everywhere and it’s definitely an issue on campus.”
The jury ordered Purdue to pay $10,000 in compensatory damages to the student.
Regarding the administrators, the university issued a statement.
“We appreciate our students and their passion on this truly important issue. But we believe, because of the evidence presented, that this is not the correct case to use in advocating for it. This was a very rare case of discipline for making false statements in a sexual assault report. The undisputed facts overwhelmingly established that Roe chose the sexual encounter she later labeled a sexual assault. Roe herself admitted under oath, “I can understand if someone didn’t feel there was sufficient evidence to support my claim, I can understand that.”
The jury, which in part exonerated university administrators, ruled on the narrow issue of whether Purdue, having conducted a thorough investigation, appropriately disciplined Roe based on its finding of false charges.
Purdue’s position in these matters has long been clear: we will not tolerate sexual harassment in any form, including and especially sexual violence. But neither will we tolerate lying or making false accusations that can have lifelong consequences.
As for our two outstanding administrators, Dr. Katie Sermersheim and Alysa Rollock, we absolutely stand behind them, and any suggestion that they resign is out of the question. These are women of great professionalism and integrity who take immense care and work tirelessly to ensure a fair process and render sound decisions in these difficult cases. We continue to support them and appreciate the support shown for them by members of the university community.”
The protestors also want more help for those that come forward.
“Care is an advocacy group on campus where survivors can remain anonymous, and they guide you through the healing process whether or not you want to go through with reporting you’re going to have that support,” Kelley said.
The students of #MeTooPurdue said they will continue to fight until a change is made.
Russell said, “It makes me very angry and it makes me feel very alone in a lot of ways because these people that are supposed to have my back, I don’t think that they will.”