SARASOTA COUNTY (WFLA) — Eight former students are listed as plaintiffs in a recently filed lawsuit against Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota.
The 57-page suit alleges the college “breached its duty to protect its student population by providing a safe campus environment”.
8 on Your Side spoke with one plaintiff, Megan Ruiz, who graduated from Ringling College in 2019. During her time at the school she spent three years working in the student life department, where she claims her boss intimidated, belittled, and harassed her.
She said after graduating she filed a formal complaint with the school’s HR department.
She said after her complaint wasn’t addressed with the school, she went public with her concerns. It was at that point she said she learned she learned she wasn’t alone.
“When I made my post in June 2020, I was reached out to by current faculty members, former faculty members, former staff members, alumni, current students,” she said. “I was reached out to by everyone with concerns about the college. I realized that what I have been through was not an isolated incident and there were countless other people who have experienced something similar or much worse.”
The lawsuit alleges Ringling College “failed to protect the plaintiffs from the mishandling of student-on-student reports of sexual assault, sexual harassment, threats of violence, and stalking.” It also alleges the school has “engaged in a pattern and practice of silencing students and covering up reports of student-on-student misconduct” as far back as 2008.
The lawsuit says the plaintiffs in the case want to hold the college “accountable and encourage Ringling to create a safer and more protective environment for students in the future.”
Ruiz believes the school could have done more to protect its students.
“No one deserves this,” she said. “I want change on that campus right now. None of this is OK, none of it should have ever happened to the students and there is no reason for it to have happened.”
Ringling College officials declined News Channel 8’s request for an on-camera interview Thursday. They sent us the following statement:
“The safety of our students and the entire Ringling College community is and always has been a top priority. As a practice, however, the College does not comment on pending legal matters.”
The first court date in the case is scheduled for this fall.