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The Dartmouth
May 26, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

College releases proposal for new sexual assault policy

Students found guilty of sexual assault involving penetration, oral-genital contact or oral-anal contact after use of force, threat or purposeful incapacitation of a survivor, as well as students motivated by bias or with prior records of sexual assault who commit these acts, would be expelled from the College if a proposed disciplinary policy is enacted.

The proposal, released early Friday morning on the Office of the President's website and accompanied by a letter from College President Phil Hanlon and Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson, would set a “strong presumption” that any sexual assault would result in expulsion, regardless of intent, means or a perpetrator’s prior violations.

Current College policysays that students guilty of actual or attempted sexual penetration without consent or those guilty of repeatedly committing sexual misconduct “should be prepared to be permanently separated from the College.”

The proposed policy includes stipulations and possible sanctions for both individuals and organizations who aid or incite others to commit or cover up sexual assault and those who retaliate against a person involved in a sexual assault case. Possible sanctions according to the proposed policy include: organizational removal from College-owned housing, loss of College recognition, expulsion, probation and fines.

Trained external investigators will review sexual assault complaints under the new proposal. Currently, Safety and Security conducts investigations to determine College sanctions.

Three College officials – the director of judicial affairs, the Title IX coordinator and a representative designated by the dean of the perpetrator’s school – would determine sanctions for those found responsible, not a Committee on Standards panel, under the proposed policy.

The proposed policy defines consent as “clear and unambiguous agreement, expressed in mutually understandable words or actions, to engage in a particular activity.” Consent can be withdrawn at any time and must be voluntarily given, the policy says.

Over 4,000 words long, the proposal was published alongside a question-and-answer summary and a letter by Hanlon and Johnson.

Hanlon and Johnson said in their letter that the new policy would encourage survivors to report, speed the disciplinary process, improve consistency in sanctioning and provide a stronger deterrent to commit sexual assault.

Members of the Dartmouth community can comment on or submit suggestions to the policy by email or on Improve Dartmouth until April 14. Trustees expressed unanimous support for the proposal, which the College aims to enact by summer 2014, at last Saturday’s Board of Trustees meeting in Hanover. College spokesperson Justin Anderson said that the feedback received would determine when the proposal is enacted.

Work by the Student and Presidential Committee on Sexual Assault and the Committee on Student Safety and Accountability informed the policy, according to Hanlon and Johnson’s letter.

Last May, students filed a Clery Act complaint against the College, documenting violations of sexual assault, discrimination, hate crimes, bullying and hazing. The Clery Act, signed in 1990, requires institutions of higher education to disclose information regarding campus crime.

The Department of Education also launched an unprompted investigation into Title IX compliance at the College regarding Dartmouth’s climate surrounding sexual assault.