The 2020 Title IX report states that Rochester Institute of Technology [RIT] is committed to creating and maintaining a campus free from all harassment and discrimination. There were a total of 118 complaints for the 2019-2020 school year. An estimate of 28 of the complaints involved a deaf or hard-of-hearing student. As of 2020, although only 5% of RIT’s entire student population is deaf or hard of hearing, the deaf and hard of hearing student population accounted for almost one-fourth (24%) of their Title IX complaints. According to these statistics, a deaf RIT student is five times more likely to be involved in a Title IX complaint compared to a hearing RIT student.
In 2021, the Center for Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution reviewed a student Title IX case. Deaf Vee Journal is using this case as an example of analyzing how the system is on campus when someone is found responsible for Title IX violations. Ryan Sanchez, a graduate of the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind, was found liable for student conduct violations and expelled from RIT as of July 2021.
RIT’s Title IX obligations include equal treatment in recruitment, admissions, counseling, financial assistance, athletics, sex-based harassment (which encompasses sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence), student discipline, single-sex education, employment, as well as equal treatment of students who are LGBTQ+, pregnant, or parents. The Center for Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution provides fair and impartial hearings to students involved in the Title IX process.
A Title IX investigator sent a letter to Sanchez informing him of the Investigative Report results in determining whether he violated RIT’s Student Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct policy. (See the letter and other documentation made publicly here, from a community member)
According to the letter, Sanchez has been found responsible of the following three counts. (1) Sexual Assault- Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse. The “Sexual Assault” category has three different subtypes: Non-Consensual Sexual Contact, Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse, and Without Affirmative Consent. (2) Sexual Exploitation. “Sexual Exploitation” occurs when a person takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another. Sanchez was also found responsible for (3) Endangering Behavior.
As a result of being found responsible, Sanchez has been expelled from school and is permanently not allowed on the RIT campus. Sanchez has also been given a “no contact order” for the people involved in the case.
However, some students report that Sanchez still comes onto campus on a regular basis and also is residing near the campus in the “Apex complex.” RIT’s official website and Apex Apartments Rochester’s [Apex] website both mention that Apex is for “off-campus student housing.” While off-campus student housing properties are not university/college property, the off-campus student housing properties often have an agreement with the nearby university/college on how many units must be allocated for student housing only, and on how to verify the applicants’ student status. Some people question how Sanchez is still living at Apex even though he was expelled from RIT.
A brief review of Apex’s application shows that Apex does allow non-students to reside there, and Apex also offers male-only, female-only, and co-ed housing options. Does Apex verify the student residents’ continuing student status, such as proof of active enrollment each semester? Are Apex’s property managers aware that Sanchez has been expelled and is no longer allowed on campus and therefore, Sanchez may not meet their requirements of being a student? Does Apex compel expelled student residents to move out?
One of Apex’s questions on the application is: “Have you ever been convicted of a felony that involved an offense against property, persons, government officials, or that involved firearms, illegal drugs, or sex crimes?” Is Apex willing to modify this question or add a question on their application process to include offenses on RIT and other student records, as a proactive means of protecting their student and non-student residents? Does Apex conduct a background check on the applicant? Does Apex intermittently conduct background checks on their residents? Those are all questions that Deaf Vee Journal is looking into at this time.
Sanchez’s regular presence on the RIT campus also points out another concern: Are students or community members notifying Public Safety of his presence in a timely manner by dialing 585-475-3333 or sending a text message at 585-205-8333? Community accountability is key in protecting survivors and other students from future incidents.
The Investigative Report results letter says that Sanchez may be arrested if found trespassing on university property. Here’s the question: If Sanchez is found trespassing and arrested, will this incident be documented as a public record or privately handled by the university? Based on RIT’s history of handling conflicts on campus, it is unlikely that the county police department gets involved unless the university requests them to.
Recently, there was another report of a separate incident involving Sanchez. This time, the survivor has decided to share her story publicly. Her name is Amanda Inthavong and her video with a transcript is available on her Facebook page (link).
The transcript was provided by Amanda, and it begins with a summary of why it took her a year to come forward.
Hello, my name is Amanda Inthavong. The story that I am sharing is about my sexual assault story. Someone that I considered a friend who raped me. His name is Ryan Sanchez. It took me a year to make this video because I was not ready to open up. So I have been figuring out how to start this. It was not easy for me. I made a lot of outtakes for the mentioned video because it reminded me of the painful past. Anyway, the point is that I am not here to target the Deaf community. However, I believe that I should point the issue out here. Besides that, this community deserves to know about this.
When Deaf Vee Journal reached out to Inthavong, she gave full permission to share her story and also mentioned that the community has been overwhelmingly supportive despite some ugly comments on her Facebook post.
Sanchez was a crew team member and a student in the Administrative Support Technology program at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.