Earle leaves College to get PhD

by Colin Grey | 5/20/94 5:00am

After five years counselling sexual assault victims and educating the College community about sexual assault, Heather Earle will leave Dartmouth to pursue her doctorate in counselling psychology at the University of Wisconsin.

"They've been great years. Being at Dartmouth, it's just been wonderful to me. I've been given a great opportunity to work with unbelievably wonderful people," said Earle. "I guess I feel that career-wise, this is what's best for me."

Senior Associate Dean of the College Daniel Nelson said he thinks Earle's position as coordinator of sexual assault/awareness programs will continue. But, he said, Dean of the College Lee Pelton has the final word .

"That isn't my decision, but I certainly think so and hope so," Nelson said.

Earle said in her five years at the College, she has seen a shift in the dialogue concerning sexual assault.

"At that point most of the education, most of the talk that was going on again focused on the end product, which was rape," she said. "What we've been trying to do is to change the focus a little bit and not talk about the end product but talk about what happens before a rape occurs."

Although the debate on sexual assault has cooled down in the two years since four rape cases incited protest rallies outside Parkhurst Administration building, all who have worked with Earle praised her ability in dealing with the issue.

"Heather is amazing," said Reini Jensen '94, the administrative intern at the Women's Resource Center. "She's reached a lot of people."

Earle has worked with a number of organizations, including the Responsible AIDS Information at Dartmouth group, the Rape Education Action Committee and a sexual assault discussion group for male students, professors and administrators.

"Every student I've talked to about her departure has said basically the same thing: it's great that she's pursuing her interest and advancing her education, but Dartmouth will sorely miss her," said David Cohen '94, a member of the men's discussion group.

Bart Bingenheimer '94, both a member of RAID and the men's discussion group, said Earle has managed to create constructive debate about an issue that can make many people defensive.

"She's, as far as I've been able to tell, done a very good job trying to make it less an us versus them issue," Bingenheimer said.

Earle became the College's full-time coordinator of sexual assault and sexual awareness programs -- previously a part-time position -- in the fall of 1989.

In her time at the College, Earle's accomplishments in the area of sexual assault education have been numerous.

Jensen said the sexual abuse peer advisors training she has lead for more than 150 students over the last two years has helped educate a broad range of students about sexual assault.

Earle has also had a hand in making the definition of sexual assault more specific in the green pages of the Student Handbook and in educating members of the Committee on Standards about sexual assault, Jensen said.

"I think Heather has done a remarkably good job of reaching out to a variety of students and inciting concern about sexual assault," Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Director Mary Childers said.

"I think the program is in excellent shape. That's partly because of her work, that's partly because of the people she works with who care about the program," Childers said.

Earle also said she believes campus discussion about sexual assault has reached new heights during her time at the College.

"I see a different level of talking going on around campus," Earle said." I hope that I can say that I'm leaving Dartmouth at a different level."

Earle said after getting her doctorate, she hopes to return to work at a college campus to continue her work health education.