Utah State University is under fire for hiding reports of sexual assault and abuse after a former student took to Facebook to share how her assault was brushed under the rug back in 2009.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, former student Whitney McPhie Griffith, a former USU piano performance student, wrote that she she was raped by a faculty member in spring 2009 in off-campus housing.
The post, which was widely shared, has come to the attention of school administrators and has led to an outpouring from other students who shared their own stories about attacks while at the school. This, in turn, has forced the school president to apologize and order an investigation into the 2009 assault and how it was handled after Griffith reported it.
According to Griffith, she initially didn’t tell anyone about the rape, which she claimed happened in April or May 2009, until four months later when she reported it to the university’s Sexual Assault and Anti-Violence Information (SAAVI) office and its Title IX department.
"While I was at Utah State University in 2009, I was raped by an instructor in the piano department. I didn't tell anyone for a while, until I sunk into a deep depression and everything in my life seemed to be completely falling apart. I called my dad one day about four months later in hysterics and told him what had happened," she wrote, adding that the school then set up a meeting with her and her alleged attacker.
"Their solution was to talk with this individual,"she recalled. "They set up a meeting with him and the head of the department, and he was told to knock it off- essentially given a slap on the wrist. He said that he was sorry and that he was now 'on the straight and narrow' and was turning things around. And that was the end of that."
Griffith also stated that the following year when she returned, she found out that "one of the required courses for piano performance majors was dropped from my schedule, after the semester had begun, because the head of the department 'didn't want there to be any drama' (between me and the instructor/rapist)," and that afterwards she was made to feel unwelcome in the department.
Even more damning, Griffith wrote, "After hearing that the instructor/rapist had also been assaulting other students in the piano program during this same period, my anxiety became so debilitating that I withdrew from USU altogether the following year."
In light of the Facebook post, Utah State University President told students on Friday that there will be an investigation into how the university handles reports of sexual assaults and that Griffith's case will be reopened.
“Not only are we investigating the concerns that students have raised about sexual harassment, sexual assault, bullying, etc.,” President Noelle E. Cockett said in a video message to students. "We are also investigating whether or not the university acted appropriately in 2009. … If we discover during this investigation that we are not doing enough or we are not acting appropriately, change will occur.”
According to the report, the school is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice after a series of high-profile sexual assault prosecutions of students.
You can read Griffith's Facebook post below: