In 2016, allegations that a Spelman College student was gang raped by four students from nearby Morehouse College were published on an anonymous Twitter account. The allegations became front-page news across the country. The tweets alleged that the first-year Spelman student attempted to report the incident to the college’s public safety officials. She claimed that she was told that Spelman and Morehouse were brother-and-sister institutions “so I should give them a pass.” Spelman College for women and Morehouse College for men, are both historically Black educational institutions in Atlanta.
The controversy prompted both colleges to examine their policies concerning sexual assault. Recently, more than 25 Title IX employees, executive leaders, and faculty representatives from Morehouse and Spelman met as a group to discuss opportunities for joint educational outreach to prevent sexual misconduct. The group also discussed best practices for handling cases.
David A. Thomas, president of Morehouse College stated that “what I have come to recognize is that in the last two years Morehouse College has made significant strides around the issues of Title IX. We don’t have a backlog of cases. We have a Title IX Coordinator, which two or three years ago, we didn’t have. We have a much more skilled group of people hearing those cases who received specialized training.”
Morehouse has also instituted training for faculty, students, and staff on preventing sexual misconduct and reporting on it when it does occur. Student leaders and athletes must participate in bystander training that focuses on their roles in spreading the message that sexual misconduct will not be tolerated on campus.
President Thomas added that the college’s sexual misconduct policies and procedures provide for disciplinary action, including dismissal if any student, staff, or faculty member engages in inappropriate behavior.