Students at Occidental College planned to gather on campus Friday to raise awareness about what they describe as the northeast Los Angeles school’s “indifference” to reports of sexual assault.
The Sleepover for Sexual Assault Awareness, sponsored by student organizations Oxy Sexual Assault Coalition and Oxy Men Against Rape, was scheduled to begin Friday afternoon, one day before students, alumni and parents planned to attend events celebrating the college’s 125th anniversary.
“We wanted to affect the most people and the best way to do that is to get alumni involved, get parents involved,” said Hailey Jures, a junior at Occidental and member of OSAC.
Jures said many events planned on campus were expected to attract a higher number of visitors to the Eagle Rock school Friday and Saturday.
The overnight event was set to include workshops, dialogues and other activities to engage attendees and passersby, Jures said. The goal was to inform students and campus visitors about sexual assault and the school's alleged mishandling of reports.
“We have a sexual assault epidemic on this campus, and we need to solve it, and we need to raise awareness,” Jures said.
Thirty-seven current and former Occidental students who identify as victims of sexual assaults voiced their experiences and concerns about the school’s policies at a press conference Thursday. The women are being represented by high-profile attorney Gloria Allred.
Six of those women have filed a complaint to the U.S. Department of Education alleging the school mishandled past cases of rape and sexual assault.
Rachel Greenstein, a graduate of Occidental, said the dean did not properly handle her report of rape.
“The dean told me that if the rapist was found guilty, his minimum punishment would be a suspension,” Greenstein said at the press conference.
The complaint mentions sexual assaults in the past five years, including a recent attack on Feb. 25, when a student was allegedly raped by a peer at a house party off-campus, authorities said.
None of the accused rapists have been found guilty and only two cases were reported to police, Allred said.
Following the filing of the complaint, Occidental administrators requested an independent review of the school’s policies related to sexual assault.
Attorneys Gina Smith and Leslie Gomez, former sex crime prosecutors, have been hired to investigate and evaluate the college and to advise changes based on their assessment. The two attorneys have more than 25 years of experience and have worked with other universities to conduct similar investigations, according to a letter from Occidental president Jonathan Veitch.
“They have complete freedom to reach their own conclusions, and will report their findings and recommendations directly to the Oxy community,” Veitch said. “It is only through the engagement and participation of community members that we can ensure that this review is informed, relevant, and meaningful.”
NBC4's Lolita Lopez contributed to this report.