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Columbia Cancels Popular Concert Over Sex Assault Fears

A popular, twice-a-year concert at Columbia University has been put out to pasture after administrators decided that the event was causing sexual assaults at the school.

The university’s four undergraduate deans, acting over the protests of students and even anti-sexual assault groups on campus, announced that Bacchanal, a major campus concert event to be held in September, had to be canceled, with a spring counterpart currently in the planning stages likely to face the same fate.

The abrupt cancellation will cost the school over $55,000 in payouts to the organizing committee to make up for payments made to artists scheduled to attend.

Columbia’s administrators are likely motivated in part by bad press the school has received over its handling of sexual assault. In April, a federal lawsuit was filed against Columbia by several students who claim the university’s handling of sexual assault is a violation of requirements under Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination at all school receiving federal funds.

There had been specific complaints about Bacchanal in the past, with a student penning an op-ed for the school newspaper last spring complaining about alleged sexual harassment that she experienced.

The cancellation has not mollified activists, but rather appears to have upset many. Columbia’s Coalition Against Sexual Violence (CASV) condemned the move, saying it failed to address the actual sources of sexual violence on campus.

“We feel strongly that this is a band-aid, not a solution, in the fight against sexual assault on Columbia’s campus…cancelling Bacchanal sends the false message that the concert is the cause of sexual violence,” CASV said in a statement. “Cancelling the event only serves to ignore and distract from the true reasons for sexual violence on campus — inadequate consent education, a lack of accountability, and rape culture.”

No Red Tape, another Columbia group dedicated to fighting sexual assault, issued its own statement saying it was “dismayed” by the cancellation.

“The reason that sexual assault has been an issue at Bacchanal is not because of Bacchanal itself. It is because of rape culture. Without Bacchanal, there will still be assaults and there will still be violence on campus. It will simply be less visible,” the group said.

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