Sofie Karasek and 51 other sexual assault survivors joined Lady Gaga onstage for her performance at the Oscars of “Till It Happens to You,” a song written for the documentary The Hunting Ground, which covers the epidemic of sexaul assaults on college campus. After the performance, Karasek began to cry while speaking with Vice President Joe Biden, telling him that she was thinking of the men and women who couldn’t be there, having taken their own lives after being sexually assaulted. In a powerful moment that would be captured by a photographer, Biden clasped her hands and rested her forehead to his.
Karasek met with with college administrators after she and three other women were assaulted by an older student at the University of California at Berkeley, but no-one from the school ever followed up. After discovering, she says, that “the university was systematically sweeping sexual assault under the the rug for decades,” she filed a federal complaint with the Education Department against Berkeley on behalf of more than 30 students. Karasek now works for D.C-based nonprofit End Rape on Campus (EROC), where she helps students prepare Title IX complaints against universities that fail to addresss sexaul violence complaints. A Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation poll last year found that one in five women say they were sexually assaulted during college. According to EROC’s website, 167 colleges and universities were being investigated for violating Title IX as of this month.
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