Dartmouth Taking Comment On Sexual Assault Policy

Hanover — A new sexual assault policy at Dartmouth College would mandate expulsion if a student is found to have engaged in sexual penetration of any form by use of force, threat or purposeful incapacitation or if the act is motivated by bias.

A proposed 12-page sexual assault disciplinary policy was made public for review by students, faculty and staff on Friday by President Phil Hanlon and Dean Charlotte Johnson.

The policy provides guidelines for how the college would investigate sexual assault complaints and how students will be sanctioned.

This policy comes at the same time the campus has fallen under renewed scrutiny after a freshman said she was sexually assaulted at a fraternity party soon after her name was posted on a “rape guide” on Bored@Baker, an online message board that is not affiliated with the college.

A petition has been started on UltraViolet, a website that describes its purpose as to fight sexism and expand women’s rights in politics, government, media and pop culture. The Dartmouth, the college’s student newspaper, reported in early February that a group of more than 100 students gathered on the Dartmouth green to speak out against the “rape guide” post.

The petition asks the college to list expulsion as punishment for rape in the student handbook and to block campus Internet access to Bored@Baker.

On Thursday, Dartmouth spokesman Justin Anderson released a statement in response to the UltraViolet petition.

The Bored@Baker post was written by one person and later removed, Anderson said. The author of the post was identified and is not currently enrolled as a student and faces the college’s disciplinary process.

No report of sexual assault has been made to the college for this incident, Anderson wrote, but the college has remained in contact with the woman to “ensure she is getting all of the support we can provide.”

Anderson added that the college’s Board of Trustees unanimously endorsed a proposal last weekend to strengthen sanctions, including mandatory expulsion, in sexual assault cases.Under the proposed sexual assault policy, once it is determined that a student has committed a sexual assault, a sanctioning panel consisting of the director of judicial affairs, a Title IX coordinator and an associate dean for student affairs or the dean of the perpetrator’s school would conduct a review.

The sanctioning panel will determine if the student should pay a fine or restitution, or face restrictions from specific college programs, activities or housing or be suject to relocation, probation, suspension, no-contact order, expulsion or other disciplinary actions.

When considering sanctions, the college would consider whether the victim is currently enrolled at Dartmouth, and the person found responsible of sexual assault would have to work around the victim’s needs because the victim’s encounters with the perpetrator “may create a hostile and intimidating environment” for the victim.

A student should also be expected to be expelled from the college if he or she engaged in any form of sexual penetration or contact that is motivated by bias on account of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or disability.

Trained external investigators will be utilized to conduct probes into sexual assault complaints.

The policy also notes that criminal investigations are separate from the college’s student disciplinary process, and the college will comply with requests from law enforcement in criminal investigations.

The proposal was posted on the Office of the President’s website on Friday, and it was accompanied by a letter from Hanlon and Johnson.

“We believe a new system along the lines proposed would encourage reporting, expedite the disciplinary process, enhance consistency in sanctioning and represent a stronger deterrent to sexual assault,” Hanlon wrote in the letter.

Students and faculty are encouraged to submit their thoughts to the college by email to Proposed.Sexual.Assault.Policy@Dartmouth.edu through April 14. Anderson said the college hopes to implement the new policy at the start of the summer term.

Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.