Northwestern University students protest after sexual assault complaint

March 4, 2014 (EVANSTON, Ill.)

The students want the school to respond more aggressively.

This comes after a student on campus filed a lawsuit accusing a professor of sexual assault.

A planned sit-in on the university's campus turned into an outdoor demonstration.

Students were protesting the continued employment of Professor Peter Ludlow, who is accused of sexually assaulting a student two years ago.

That student is suing the university for allegedly mishandling her sexual assault claim, and she's also suing the professor.

On Tuesday, the protestors were going to walk out of his class, but he canceled it. They called for Ludlow to be fired and for greater transparency of the University's sexual assault policies.

''My goal in starting this was to make an environment where people feel safe to come forward and criticize the administration if they feel like their needs weren't met,'' said Laura Whitteburg, a Northwestern student.

The students marched from Harris Hall, where Ludlow teaches class across the street to the Dean of Student's office, to discuss several issues including a petition drafted recently asking the university for more transparency in cases of sexual misconduct.

The group of about 70 student was met by campus police and the dean's assistant.

Instead of meeting with the dean, a university spokesman addressed the students' concerns.

''We believe strongly that Northwestern is a place that is committed to responding to any kind of complaints regarding sexual harassment, regarding sexual assault,'' said Al Cubbage, a Northwestern University representative.

''We ask that the university really go beyond damage control and seriously address these concerns,'' said student Moira Geary.

Northwestern is fighting the lawsuit and Ludlow, through his attorney has denied the sexual assault allegations.

A statement from Ludlow's attorney said, ''Mr. Ludlow did not assault nor did he engage in any inappropriate conduct. We have corroborating evidence that she propositioned Mr. Ludlow. He refused her advances.''

Professor Ludlow's next class is Thursday. The students want to demonstrate on Thursday as well and say they also hope to meet with the school's Board of Trustees next week.

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