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The Dartmouth
June 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Graduates support rape victims

The splashes of purple you see mixed in with the black graduation caps and gowns today are symbols of support for sexual abuse survivors -- particularly for one '97 woman who will face her rapist today for the first time since his separation from the College two years ago.

The woman was raped the second night of her freshman year, and after trying to recover for well over a year, she brought charges to the Committee On Standards in the spring of her sophomore year in 1995, according to her friend Aurora Leute '97, one of the coordinators of the sash campaign.

The male, who is a member of the Class of 1995, was found guilty of rape by COS and suspended for four terms.

He was permitted to finish his academic coursework, but the College decided to hold his degree for another year, and he was not permitted to participate in the activities of Senior Week or Commencement, Leute said.

She said the male continually violated the terms of his suspension that summer, and the College extended his suspension for two additional terms.

His suspension ended in December, when he was eligible to receive his diploma, and now he has returned to Hanover to walk in the Commencement exercises, Leute said.

The victim "has been inquiring all year whether he would walk," Leute said, and last week she found out from a friend working caps and gowns he would appear for the ceremony.

The woman appealed to the office of the Dean of the College to prevent him from coming, but her request was denied because "he had earned" the right to participate in Commencement, Leute said.

"Frankly, I really feel she deserves the support of the College," she said. "I don't feel like she is getting it right now."

Leute said she thought of distributing purple sashes to show an open form of support for her friend and for other sexual abuse victims. "She is not the only survivor in the '97 class," Leute said.

According to Leute, thesashes have three meanings -- to show support for all sexual abuse survivors, to show extra support for this woman and to serve as a reminder to everyone that the College has never permanently separated anyone for sexual abuse.

Leute, who is a Sexual Abuse Peer Advisor, said she and other volunteers distributed the sashes near the cap and gown distribution earlier this week. She added she also hoped to have some sashes available this morning to hand out.

She said several faculty members also requested sashes to wear for the Commencement exercises.