CBS Dean Treating Sexual Assault Charge With ‘Utmost Seriousness’

Columbia Business School. Courtesy photo


Gould also attempted to explain why Dean Crawford may have failed to follow-up with Brehm on her serious charges or lent a more sympathetic ear to her allegations. “As students who work closely with Dean Crawford and the OSA team, we want to recognize the work that goes on behind the scenes,” she wrote. “As administrators, they have demonstrated their ability to navigate difficult issues in our community in the past, and we are confident they will do so in this instance as well. We recognize that their actions can unfortunately come across as impersonal due to legal and procedural stipulations, but they are intended to protect the privacy of students involved.”

According to Brehm, Crawford suggested she was defaming a fellow student by bringing her allegations forward during their brief meeting. “I reminded her that I didn’t name the student, but ‘Yes, am I the one that is under fire here?’” Crawford, she recalls, warned her to be very careful and told her not to have any other written communction with her classmates. The dean gave no indication she would investigate the charges Brehm was making, didn’t even express concern for any of the women who said they had been drugged.

When Brehm left Crawford’s office, Brehm felt that the dean believed she had fabricated the story. “I felt deflated when I walked out,” recalls Brehm. “I felt like I was being attacked. I asked for added security and a do-not-contact order. She made everything sound unreasonable and insisted that Columbia had incredible security at all events. My friend told me that woman is not your friend.”


Columbia Business School MBA student Katie Brehm

Gould noted that there is an “active and ongoing investigation involving multiple authorities across Columbia University and the city. Due to that, and with respect to privacy of the individuals involved, the school cannot comment further at this time. For the moment, we, as your student leaders, would like to share some thoughts.”

Gould went on to explain that the school already had prioritized training and education around sexual harassment and violence. “However, based on conversations and feedback over the past 24 hours, it is clear that we have come up short on our commitment to each other to foster a safe and respectful environment,” she wrote.

“It will be our priority to reflect and take action to improve our culture going forward, and we welcome your thoughts and ideas. We recognize that training is only a piece of the solution, and our community needs to support continued discussions and corresponding actions on sexual misconduct in the workplace and in our own community here at CBS.”


She then outlined three steps the student government is taking:

1. We are in the process of organizing a space for open student conversation around sexual violence and an opportunity to ask questions about the reporting process at the University. This will likely be Thursday afternoon. Details to follow.

2. We are encouraged by the many students who are interested in bringing this dialogue to their clusters, clubs, and other groups, and we are committed to supporting these conversations and providing resources where needed in whatever way we can.

3. For students who have thoughts or ideas on how we can continue to push this dialogue and our community forward, please reach out to Josh Barrett or Bolu Adeyeye, VPs of Citizenship and leaders of our Sexual Respect Initiative. They will work to help support student involvement in and ideas for these initiatives.

Gould concludes her email with a rallying cry to try and use the charges in a positive way. “Today,” she added, “let’s lift each other up. Let’s listen to each other and support one another. Let’s ask each other how we are doing, and take the time to consider the response without judgment or prejudice, and come out stronger as a result.”