U.S.

Columbia Students Post 'Rapists On Campus' Flyers

Student blogs and newspapers reported the list showed up in bathrooms and on flyers posted around the university.

Columbia Students Post 'Rapists On Campus' Flyers
The Columbia Lion

Students at Columbia University frustrated with their school’s response — or lack thereof — to sexual violence have taken matters into their own hands — posting the names of alleged rapists. (Via Flickr / Jan Ingar Grindheim

"Sexual assault violators on campus" read the first flyer. Student newspaper The Columbia Lion reports the names of four Columbia undergrads first showed up last week in a campus bathroom. According to the paper, "There were four distinct styles of handwriting, which suggests multiple authors."

​Student blogs and newspapers reported the same list then showed up in other bathrooms and on flyers posted around the university — this time with the label "Rapists on Campus." (Via Columbia Daily Spectator, Bwog, The Columbia Lion

Maintenance workers have reportedly been painting over the names, only for them to reappear elsewhere.

​The incident comes less than a month after 23 students from Columbia and Barnard College filed a federal complaint accusing Columbia of violating Title II, Title IX and the Clery Act. (Via Time

​They argued perpetrators of sexual violence were given far too lenient sentences and many are allowed to remain on campus. The university, they say, also discourages survivors from reporting their assaults. (Via Columbia University)

That same month, another group of students promoting sexual assault awareness accused the university of trying to silence their protests. (Via Newsweek

Then there was this well-meant but perhaps insensitive gesture — a red, floral cake baked by the university's dining service meant to raise awareness for sexual assault some said portrayed sexual violence as romantic. (Via Twitter / @anna_bahr

So far, much of the reaction to the bathroom postings has been positive. Here's what two Columbia students — both survivors of sexual assault — told WPIX.

"It's not like this was a fun thing to do for whoever wrote it, I'm sure."

"I'm really glad I saw those names. Because I can better use that information to protect myself and my friends."

But others question whether the vigilante-like tactic, even if well-intentioned, is the best approach. 

A writer for PolicyMic says: "There are undoubtedly serious ethical repercussions to an anonymous act of vigilantism like this; after all, anyone could put any name on a bathroom stall and tarnish someone's reputation."

​Columbia did release a statement saying it had removed the "graffiti," and the fact that the university used the term graffiti is worth noting. As The Columbia Lion says, based on the university's rules of conduct, it "raises the possibility that the students who wrote the list will face judicial repercussions from the university, while those listed will not."

Some of the flyers also reportedly included a message to women, urging them to "stay safe, protect and support each other."