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Sterrett loaned her a shirt to sleep in and assumed she’d crash on the mat he and his roommate kept for visitors.
Instead, CB came and lay down next to him on his bed.
As President Obama said at a White House event in September, where he announced a campaign to address campus violence, “An estimated one in five women has been sexually assaulted during her college years—one in five.” (At an earlier White House event on the issue, the president declared of sexual violence, “It threatens our families, it threatens our communities; ultimately, it threatens the entire country.”) In recent weeks, lurid account of a premeditated gang rape at the University of Virginia has made the issue of campus sexual violence front-page news.
Although Sterrett and CB had continued to live on the same floor until the end of the school year, and she hadn’t complained about his presence, Cowan told Sterrett that he would be removed from the dorm.Drew Sterrett couldn’t know that when his friend slipped into his bottom bunk late one night in March of his freshman year, she was setting off a series of events that would end his college education.It was 2012, and Sterrett was an engineering student at the University of Michigan. A group of students had been hanging out in the dorm on a Friday evening—there was drinking, but no one was incapacitated—when CB told Sterrett that her roommate had family members staying in their room and she needed a place to spend the night.(Through his lawyer, Sterrett declined to speak to me.A Michigan spokesman said the university cannot comment on a pending case. I contacted her lawyer, Joshua Sheffer, who sent the following statement: “While we strongly disagree with Plaintiff’s description of the night in question, we do not feel that it should be played out in the press.” It continued: “This lawsuit is between Plaintiff and the University of Michigan; my client wishes only to put this traumatic event behind her and move forward with her education and life.”) Cowan told Sterrett over Skype that there would be restrictions placed on him when he returned to campus for his sophomore year.
The attention it’s receiving today—on campus, at the White House, in the media—is a direct result of the often callous and dismissive treatment of victims.