In the wake of the sexual assault scandal at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, women who would not be silenced are finding strength in one another.
Annie Clark and Andrea Pino have formed what they call the Title IX Network, a coalition of nationwide college students calling for an overhaul of the way universities handle reports of sexual violence. The two women have had the Roman numeral “IX” tattooed onto their ankles, a number that reminds them of the college women across the country for whom they are fighting, and what it is they are fighting back against.
Both Clark and Pino say they were raped at UNC Chapel Hill and that the university grievously mishandled the investigation into their reports. The two have filed a federal complaint against the university along with three other sexual assault victims, each alleging that that the university’s failure to correctly handle the complaints violated the women’s rights to equal education under the Title IX gender discrimination law.
The women also filed a complaint charging UNC-CH with underreporting complaints of sexual assault, a direct violation of a campus crime reporting law.
Since coming forward, Clark and Pino’s efforts have become the topic of a national discussion. They were featured in the New York Times and aspects of their stories were written into an April episode of the television show “Law and Order: SVU”. Other students from universities across the U.S. have joined the women, making federal complaints against top-rated schools including Dartmouth College, Swarthmore College, the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Southern California.
In an interview, Clark said that the goal of the Title IX Network is “to present a unified front against not only sexual assault but also the way universities across the country are handling and/or not handling it, how their covering it up when it does happen and how it’s been happening for years and years, decades, actually, and how students, alumni, faculty and staff – we’re not going to put with it anymore.”