This is my freshmen year at Spelman and my last year because I decided to leave after what happened to me.
— Raped At Spelman (@RapedAtSpelman) May 2, 2016
Two historically black colleges in Atlanta are investigating sexual-assault allegations posted on an anonymous Twitter account that described the rape of a Spelman student by four Morehouse students.
The alleged gang rape at a party was detailed in series of tweets posted Monday under the handle @RapedAtSpelman, which self-identified as a freshman at the women’s college.
The tweets allege that the Spelman student attempted to report the incident to the college’s public safety officials — and that she completed a rape kit, but was eventually asked by officials what she was wearing and told that Spelman and Morehouse were brother-and-sister institutions “so I should give them a pass.”
The tweets do not specify when or where the alleged assault took place.
“The information anonymously shared on Twitter was our very first indication of this incident,” Morehouse College President John Silvanus Wilson Jr. wrote in a letter Wednesday. “Now that we are aware of these allegations, we are determined to pursue the investigation to the fullest extent possible.”
Wilson added: “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.”
Spelman President Mary Campbell posted a public plea, urging the individual to come forward:
Our hearts go out to you @RapedAtSpelman. Please identify yourself to me, so that I may offer you my full support and assistance.
— Mary S. Campbell (@SpelmanPres) May 3, 2016
“I know that members of our Spelman community join me in expressing heartbreak and outrage over the incidents and experiences recounted on Twitter,” Campbell wrote in a letter. “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.”
She added: “Sexual violence of any kind is destructive to our students, our academic environment and our sense of social justice.”
As of Thursday afternoon, no complaint had been filed at Morehouse connected to the allegations, Morehouse spokesman Add Seymour Jr. said. “The person has not come forward, but we’re still hoping so we can get to the bottom of this,” he said. The men’s private college has launched its own investigation rather than joining Spelman’s, Seymour added.
Spelman officials did not immediately respond to The Post’s inquiries regarding the status of that school’s investigation.
Morehouse and Spelman are both members of the Atlanta University Center (AUC).
Its sad that I have to create a page to express myself rather than tweeting from my real account because AUC students blame & bash victims.
— Raped At Spelman (@RapedAtSpelman) May 2, 2016
“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,” wrote Wilson, the Morehouse president. “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.”
The allegations were made amid an ongoing, heated national debate about sexual assault on campus. In recent years, advocates have been working to change university cultures that they believe make rape all too common and too easy to ignore, and to improve school officials’ response to reported assaults — efforts that have increased scrutiny on universities.
More than 150 universities are currently being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education for their handling of sexual-assault cases. Meanwhile, protest movements have been simmering on American college campuses, and school officials and activists nationwide are working on training and education to prevent rapes.
High-profile cases at Vanderbilt, Stanford and elsewhere have drawn widespread attention. In 2014, Rolling Stone published an explosive article describing a fraternity gang rape of a University of Virginia student; the article was retracted after it was discredited by a Washington Post investigation (later confirmed by the Charlottesville Police Department and the Columbia Journalism School) — though the student, known as “Jackie,” stood by her account in interviews with The Post.
This week, the @RapedAtSpelman social media posts went viral, sparking two hashtags — #RapedAtSpelman and #RapedByMorehouse — and a broader conversation about sexual assault at historically black colleges and universities.
This issue is bigger than me, its about ALL college campus not taking sexual assault seriously like they claim they do.
— Raped At Spelman (@RapedAtSpelman) May 5, 2016
The tweets were followed by on-campus demonstrations, as well.
— Da'Shaun Harrison (@_iAmRoyal) May 3, 2016
Ya momma ain't tell ya Black resistance is Black joy? So much magic in the AUC. So much. pic.twitter.com/gWsTR0PPE1
— Avery. (@Philosavery) May 3, 2016
I need my Morehouse brothers and sons to understand that #rapedbymorehouse is a call to end campus rape culture, not a universal indictment.
— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) May 3, 2016
Susan Svrluga contributed to this report.