Loras College sued over alleged student housing break-ins, Title IX violations

By: - September 16, 2022 11:06 am

A former Loras College student is suing the Dubuque school for allegedly failing to properly investigate a break-in at her student-housing apartment. (Photo via Google Earth)

A former Loras College student is suing the Dubuque school for allegedly failing to properly investigate a break-in at her student-housing apartment.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa by former varsity soccer player Rachael Swift, alleges that in September 2020, Swift awoke in her apartment to find an unknown male watching her sleep. Swift alleges she screamed and the intruder ran from the scene.

In her lawsuit, Swift claims she immediately reported the matter to campus security, who reportedly dismissed her concerns that she was the victim of sexual misconduct and suggested the intruder was drunk and mistakenly entered the wrong apartment.

Within a few days, Swift had allegedly relayed her concerns to Loras College officials, including the director of residential life and the dean of student arts. The school’s assistant director of residential life allegedly rejected Swift’s request to post notices informing others of the break-in and said the school didn’t want to alarm the students.

According to the lawsuit, the school also rejected Swift’s proposal that cameras be installed at the entrance to student housing units and failed to take any other steps to increase security.

Because voyeurism is allegedly treated as nonverbal sexual misconduct in the college’s Title IX Administrative Policies, Swift filed a Title IX incident report about the lack of security and complained that she was facing discrimination as a female student who had been subjected to sexual misconduct.

In her lawsuit, Swift claims she then moved back home due to safety concerns, and that over the next four months there were at least four break-ins at student-housing apartments occupied by women.

Ultimately, the lawsuit states, the perpetrator—later determined to be in the same elementary education program as Swift—was captured on video by a camera that was set up by female students. Loras College then refused to conduct a Title IX investigation or hearing, allegedly because it believed the offense didn’t amount to sexual misconduct.

Under the school’s code of conduct, Loras officials allegedly filed “lesser” charges against the perpetrator, denying Swift her rights under Title IX, which included the right to be informed of the outcome of the charges.

Swift alleges that she subsequently filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which, she claims, is “currently investigating Loras College for sexual harassment in violation of Title IX.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for discrimination in violation of Title IX. The college has yet to file a response.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.