Raechel Liska, aged 22. Photo from Channel 3000.
Link to Ms. Liska’s video interview, available online.
Raechel Liska, aged 22, an honors student and Army ROTC candidate at UW-Whitewater, has filed a sexual discrimination action with the U.S. Department of Education, Civil Rights Division, against our local university.
This is the second federal action that a sexual assault survivor has filed against the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the last eighteen months.
At WISC-TV, investigative journalist Adam Schrager reports on Ms. Liska’s complaint, one that contends that the university’s conduct in her case is “reflective of a systemic gender-based (response) that favored [her] male assailant.” See, Sex assault survivor claims discrimination by university @ Channel 3000, WISC-TV.
Ms. Liska was violently assaulted, but when she sought recourse – as federal law (and mere humanity) – requires, she met with a further tragedy:
“I got assaulted twice,” Liska said. “Once by my attacker, which was the traumatic, horrific part, but again by the school, which was the betrayal.”
Liska said UWW Dean of Students Mary Beth Mackin violated her civil rights by refusing to interview two witnesses and by not accepting either the police report or her medical records stemming from the incident. She also asserts Mackin did not issue a no-contact order against her alleged attacker, even as he retaliated and intimidated her after she spoke to authorities. Further, it was the Army that stepped in and removed her assailant from her classes three months after the incident in question, even after she’d asked the university to do the same multiple times, only to be rebuffed.
“The reason I filed my complaint is because something here needs to change,” she said. “I thought the dean of students would be protecting the students, protecting me. She’s the dean of students. I thought I’d be her priority, but I walked out feeling like protecting the school was her top priority.”
Dean of Students Mary Beth Mackin’s gross misconduct
Ms. Liska accomplished much, and loved the university, but that university treated her injuriously and shamefully:
She also asserts that Mackin never informed her of her Title IX rights after she made her initial report and did not provide her with a sexual assault advocate on campus. Liska remains on campus now studying to become a high school history teacher. She said she’s coming forward now because she doesn’t want any other UWW students to experience what she’s gone through.
“It doesn’t matter to me specifically what their opinions are of the assault itself. What matters to me is how people feel I was treated by the institution I trusted most,” she said. “I want my face and my name attached to this story. I want it to be personal. I want people to take it personally and I want there to be change out of it.”
After Raechel Liska was assaulted, and after her mistreatment from one of the university’s leading administrators, the university still used Ms. Liska’s picture to promote UW-Whitewater as a safe and welcoming place:
The university is currently distributing a pamphlet to new and prospective students that prominently features Liska in uniform on a page titled, “Leaders and Mentors.”
“I am really bothered that the university still uses me as an exemplary image but is so resistant to helping me at my most vulnerable time,” she said.
Raped, ignored and mistreated by her university, and yet used as a public-relations pawn by that same university.
What would be worse: that this university media-relations team is so obtuse that they cannot see the injury use of Ms. Liska’s promotional picture represents, that they are so indifferent they simply do not care, that they are so parsimonious that they will use the picture rather than publish a new one, or that they manipulatively think use of the picture would somehow impress Ms. Liska?
So let us hope, Dieu aidant, that we should never become so contemptible as officials of this ilk.
Chancellor Beverly Kopper hides behind her spokeswoman
Astonishingly, Chancellor Beverly Kopper cannot be troubled to respond to these allegations in her own voice. Instead, she hides behind a spokeswoman’s dull, stale statement:
“UW-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper believes that providing a safe environment for students, faculty and staff is her first priority,” wrote Sara Kuhl, UWW’s director of marketing and media relations, in a statement to News 3. “UW-Whitewater has been and remains committed to raising awareness about the existence and impact of sexual violence and taking active steps toward preventing the occurrence of sexual violence on campus. UW-Whitewater takes all complaints very seriously and every complaint is handled with care and compassion for all parties involved.”
Scripture records that God spoke thorough Moses, and Moses spoke through Aaron, but I am quite convinced that Beverly Kopper is neither Creator nor Prophet – it is a measure of either profound ignorance or arrogance that Kopper would not speak in her own words.
This is the second accusation that directly and specifically names Mary Beth Mackin:
The first Title IX complaint against the school was filed in January 2014. The survivor in that case alleged that UWW administrators, specifically Mackin, missed appointments, hurried conversations and failed to interview key witnesses to her claims. Federal investigators have been on campus interviewing students and administrators about those allegations.
I would invite readers to read Mr. Schrager’s full account. See, Sex assault survivor claims discrimination by university @ Channel 3000, WISC-TV. The WISC-TV broadcast story is scheduled to air @ 10 PM Thursday evening, 11.5.15.
Previously, see How UW-Whitewater Treated a Sexual Assault Victim (referring to a story, also from Adam Schrager at WISC-TV, on another assault survivor’s gross mistreatment while at UW-Whitewater).
There will be more to publish on this matter, and updates as developments warrant.
One assault survivor abused was too many; two similarly abused are a grave offense against individual dignity, common morality, and American standards of justice and fairness.
See, also, the It’s On Us Campaign and Not Alone, a site for those who have experienced sexual assault with resources of support.