Officials at both Spelman and Morehouse, two of Atlanta’s storied historically Black colleges, have joined together to investigate an alleged gang rape of a freshman student that was detailed in the Twitter account, @RapedAtSpelman.
The account, which started posting May 2, details how the unidentified student was partying with upperclassmen from the men’s college of Morehouse — which is also the brother school to Spelman, a private women’s college — when four students took the anonymous poster into a room and began the sexual assault.
In a statement released this week, Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell urged the anonymous poster to come forward.
“I know that members of our Spelman community join me in expressing heartbreak and outrage over the incidents and experiences recounted on Twitter,” the statement reads. “Because the Twitter account is anonymous, I tweeted an invitation to @RapedAtSpelman to reach out to me personally so I, and the College, can provide full assistance and support. We continue to follow leads to identify the victim to offer our help and services.”
But in a thread of tweets, the student wrote that after reporting the assault to the dean and public safety, it took the college a month to get back to her, adding that she was told to give the students a pass due to the historical relationship the colleges share.
John Wilson, president of Morehouse College, issued a statement Wednesday encouraging “any victim of sexual assault to report the incident to our Title IX office, the Office of Campus Safety, or any other mandatory reporter.”
Title IX refers to the federal law that bans sexual and gender discrimination in federally funded education programs.
“I am deeply troubled by the recent allegations that have been anonymously stated on Twitter alleging that a Spelman student was assaulted by four unidentified Morehouse students,” Wilson’s statement read. “At Morehouse, we take seriously all allegations of sexual assault and we are redoubling our efforts to ensure that our students and students throughout the Atlanta University Center are encouraged to report any such incidents. Both our Office of Campus Safety and the Title IX Office have been activated to fully investigate the allegations with the limited information that we have.”
Incidents of sexual assault between the “brother and sister” schools have surfaced in the past year. In November, both colleges were added to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights’ list of schools under investigation for possibly violating Title IX.
The BuzzFeed article, “Our Hands Are Tied Because Of This Damn Brother-Sisterhood Thing,” details the complicated relationship between the two colleges, especially when facing incidents of sexual assault:
At Spelman and Morehouse, two private single-sex schools so connected that they’re often referred to as one — “SpelHouse” — some Spelman survivors who have reported their assaults have been left to wrestle not only with a campus adjudication process that they feel didn’t serve them justice, but also with deep guilt for having turned in one of their Morehouse “brothers,” Anita Badejo writes. “Spelman and Morehouse are, respectively, the first- and fourth-ranked HBCUs in the country — and thus incubators for the next generation of black elites.”
Spelman is currently reviewing training materials related to sexual violence, NBC reports. Officials at Morehouse, who say they had “no knowledge” of the alleged assault until Tuesday, have vowed to “pursue the investigation to the fullest extent possible.”