Punishing Sexual Assault

by Dan Nelson | 5/29/02 5:00am

To the Editor:

Your editorial on Friday, May 24, about changes in the sexual assault policy at Harvard was right on target when it observed that more rather than less student input is needed when changes to such a policy are contemplated. The editorial was mistaken, however, when it stated that Dartmouth's disciplinary system punishes academic dishonesty with three terms of dismissal and "rapists" with one. On a number of occasions, the Committee on Standards has affirmed that serious misconduct, and especially misconduct that harms others such as sexual assault and other kinds of physical assault, is likely to result in multiple terms of suspension or separation (see this year's Student Handbook, p. 141). Students who have violated the academic honor principle at Dartmouth as well as students who have violated the sexual abuse policy have received a range of sanctions, depending on the facts of the cases, including separation (permanent expulsion) from the College.

The academic honor principle and sexual abuse policies at Dartmouth address a wide range of behaviors, and the students, faculty and administrators on the COS make determinations about sanctions based on the evidence available at a hearing. The Undergraduate Judicial Affairs Office publishes an annual report, distributed to all undergraduate students and faculty, describing the various kinds of cases reviewed in the preceeding year and describing the different sanctions that were imposed.