Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sexual Assault Complaint Wave Continues: Dartmouth To Be Next

An article in yesterday's edition of the student newspaper at Dartmouth College suggests that Dartmouth may be the next to be targeted by a complaint to the Office for Civil Rights over its polices and practices for addressing campus sexual assault.  Student activists who filed recent complaints against Swarthmore and UNC are quoted as expecting Dartmouth students and alumni to follow suit in the near future. It is no surprise that Dartmouth students would have connected with the growing network of students promoting sexual assault awareness and compliance with Title IX and Clery, in light of their controversial protest over the college's sexual assault problem during a recent prospective students' weekend.

I too was interviewed for this article, and shared my observations on the apparent momentum of sexual assault-related compliance efforts, as evidenced by the recent spate of sexual assault complaints, along with the recent resolution of an earlier complaint against the University of Montana. I expressed my hope that we may be at or near the tipping point for individual, institution-focused compliance efforts to effectively deter all colleges and universities from continuing to engage in the kinds of practices that allow campus sexual assault to thrive. For example, Inside Higher Education published yesterday about Otterbein University's recent decision to voluntarily curtail its practice of asking victims and witnesses in sexual assault proceedings to sign a statement many perceived as a nondisclosure agreement, which is in conflict with the university's obligation to report accurate crime statistics and conceal sexual assault.  Said the reporter, "The situation illustrates the importance of having clear, well-publicized procedures for sexual assault investigations, experts said, but also is yet another example of how ... it’s students and not administrators who are initiating policy changes these days."