The following response was submitted to the College on June 30, 2014 in response to the Moving Dartmouth Forward Committee’s request for comment.
Moving Dartmouth Forward 6/30/2014
Thank you for proving the opportunity to share my thoughts on what Dartmouth College must do to more comprehensively and effectively address sexual assault, binge drinking, and general problems around lack of inclusivity on campus.
My recommendations largely follow those of DartmouthChange and focus mainly on sexual violence at Dartmouth, as that’s what I have spent over two years researching as a founding member of that organization. However, sexual violence and harassment can’t be successfully addressed without also understanding how they intersect with other forms of discrimination, such as race, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Too many students bear an extra burden due to their race, sexual orientation and/or socioeconomic class.
It’s my understanding that many other alums and students have provided clear insights into how the College should improve the campus to enable all students to fully benefit from their Dartmouth education, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic class. The students involved in the Freedom Budget spent significant time and thought on that project. While a few of the demands aren’t possible to meet, most are reasonable and necessary. The pain and frustration that drove the various groups involved to create the comprehensive list cannot be ignored. It’s significant that these disparate groups came together for a common cause, something I’m not sure has ever happened historically at Dartmouth. Deborah Hope ’76 has worked closely with African-American students for decades. Listen to her insights. Listen to the students who were involved. Listen to the OPAL directors and the faculty who have been speaking out on these issues for years.
These recommendations regarding sexual violence and harassment are based on input from national experts and hundreds of conversations with students, alums, administrators, and local experts like WISE, SANE nurses at DHMC, the county prosecutor and law enforcement.
I also strongly recommend that the committee hear directly from as many survivors as possible to better understand their experiences on Dartmouth’s campus. Indeed, I respectfully suggest that speaking with survivors should be the starting point for this committee. I would be happy to make introductions, as I’ve heard dozens upon dozens of experiences over these past two years through working with DartmouthChange.
I fear these recommendations are too lengthy and messy, as I didn’t have sufficient time to write and edit well. I appreciate your willingness to overlook these faults!
Susy Struble ‘93
Myths regarding sexual assault permeate every area of the campus. Many of these imply that the victim is responsible for their fate. For example, directly before the March 2014 Board of Trustees meeting, several female trustees told several students that they felt Dartmouth’s sexual violence problems were no worse than anywhere else and that the negative media coverage was really to blame. As trustees, we assume they are aware of the two federal investigations into Dartmouth. Another female trustee told two alumna in a phone conversation about sexual violence on campus that “I just don’t understand why there isn’t more common sense exhibited by girls. I mean, I’ve talked about this a lot with my cohorts, and we just didn’t go into the basements at two a.m. when falling down drunk.” Later in the conversation, she added that the problem in her opinion also stems from the lack of self-confidence of today’s Dartmouth women. When asked what she thought parents would think of her position, she laughed and said she didn’t have kids and therefore could say what she wanted to. Dean Johnson chose one bystander intervention program over another, more tested bystander intervention program because it didn’t discuss gender, which is deemed too “emotional and off-putting” for students.
We share these anecdotes because we believe they illustrate how those responsible for Dartmouth students’ health, well-being and education don’t seem to truly understand the depth and breadth of the problem – or the path to finding effective solutions. There seems to be little understanding of the relationship between behaviors, cultures and institutions and the actual occurrence of campus peer sexual violence. No individual is acting out of evil intent, but institutionally there are strong market disincentives to an honest, open appraisal of the situation and effective action.
Nancy Cantalupo’s analysis of how federal regulations have unwittingly created disincentives for colleges to “bury their heads in the sand” around campus sexual violence1 frames the overarching problem quite well: “The rate of campus peer sexual violence and the high non-reporting rate perpetuate a cycle whereby perpetrators commit sexual violence because they think they will not get caught or because they actually have not been caught. As a result of survivors not reporting the violence, perpetrators are not caught, continue to believe they will not get caught, and continue to perpetrate. Because survivors largely do not report due to the documented disbelief and/or hostile reactions of others, particularly those in authority, the first step of campus communities and society as a whole should be to change these attitudes and the procedures in order to encourage victims to come forward. If the cycle is to be broken and the violence is to be ended, survivors need to report. Yet survivors cannot be expected to report unless they are treated better when they do.” (emphasis added)
Believing victims and providing them consistent, comprehensive support must be the overarching priority.
As part of our efforts to end sexual violence and harassment, we must talk about Dartmouth’s culture. This discussion cannot be dismissed as too difficult or as somehow political. Sexual violence and harassment are abuses of gender-based power, and it is intellectually dishonest to think that any significant change can be made without directly discussing (and addressing) the root causes. It’s also a pretty poor assessment of Dartmouth’s students and alums – and the education Dartmouth provides – to think that we can’t handle these conversations because they are too “off-putting” and “emotional,” which is what we’ve heard verbatim from Dean Johnson and President Hanlon. The cultural shift we require must start from the top, with how President Hanlon frames the issue, as well as build from the bottom. The problem manifests itself in “bad behaviors,” but these behaviors are based on beliefs, attitudes and norms that have too often become acceptable at Dartmouth.
In the larger picture of improving victim support, it is essential to separate victim reporting from data collection about rates of victimization. Doing so would allow the victim reporting system to focus solely on meeting victims’ needs, while the data collection system would focus on gathering accurate information through annual campus climate surveys, especially macro-level data that could inform culture/environment-targeted interventions and prevention strategies. In addition, this separation would reduce the institutional incentive to quell reporting2, which is often done passively; to note, the current, extreme confusion about what a victim should do post-incident at Dartmouth.
To this point, we recommend that the College make a commitment to conduct an annual campus climate survey with all unedited and raw data made public, starting this fall. Not only will this separation as noted above improve victim support, it will help the administration and community to understand if the College’s prevention and support programs are working and how they should be revised in the future, if at all. The survey should be designed by social scientists with experience measuring sexual violence and harassment (as well as other forms of discrimination and how they intersect) and should be modeled after a survey that the University of New Hampshire’s Preventions Innovations group3 has used successfully since 1988.4 Indeed, the College should contract with the UNH Preventions Innovation group to create the survey. There are additional benefits: the College would have a greater incentive to improve victim reporting and prevention and intervention programs if there was a large gap between incidence rates and reporting rates.
Lastly, the College’s sexual harassment policy requires significant revision. It’s our understanding that Holli Weed ’14 has done some useful research on this. Sexual assault and harassment often happen concurrently and are both problematic aspects of the student experience that the College must address. This is key to improving the supportive environment for victims, and it is also needed to meet federal regulation requirements. The Campus SaVE Act, which contains many requirements related to gender bias, hate crimes, stalking, domestic violence and dating violence, will be enforced starting this fall. We encourage the administration to revise its sexual harassment policy now and to enable open community input to the revisions. We didn’t have time to go into specifics on the sexual harassment issue but can upon request.
1. Set benchmarks: Conduct annual, independent surveys of community attitudes surrounding sexual violence and harassment on campus, with a particular focus on the student experience.
Dartmouth must improve accountability and increase transparency by publishing quality, detailed data on the scope and root causes of sexual violence and harassment at Dartmouth.5
The only way to have an ongoing evidence-based, quantitative and qualitative benchmark of what’s actually happening on campus, the effectiveness of various prevention and response programs, and the role of campus cultures and institutions is to collect data anonymously through annual independent surveys.6 These surveys must include an assessment of the incidence of sexual assault and harassment during the previous year, similar to the assessments required of Military Service Academies by the U.S. government, and also assess the survivor experience. They must also be methodologically rigorous, published annually in unedited and full detail, and include all stakeholders, such as faculty, staff, administration, trustees and alumni as well as students.
Publishing the various policies Dartmouth has in place to protect student safety and civil rights, such as the College’s sexual assault and hazing policies, isn’t optimally meaningful if the policies aren’t accompanied by data that would help the community understand how well they work. Moreover, the student and community base of knowledge changes annually with every new and graduating class, meaning essential institutional memory is lost to those who need it most. By not providing complete data to the community, the College is creating a situation of potentially dangerous information asymmetry. Parents and students must be supported in making informed decisions. The greater community must be enabled to hold the College accountable and to engage helpfully where they can.
2. Commission an independent analytical study of the campus climate at Dartmouth with particular attention to the aspects that contribute to sexual violence and harassment.
To develop a clear, public understanding of how to change beliefs, norms and attitudes and to improve procedures in a way best suited for Dartmouth, the College should commission an independent analytical study of the campus climate at Dartmouth, with particular attention to the aspects that contribute to sexual violence and harassment. Action should begin with a detailed analysis of exactly why sexual violence and harassment exist and persist at Dartmouth and the student experience around these issues, and continue with an unflinching commitment to address the root causes, whatever they are. The unedited analysis must be shared with the Dartmouth community and completed in an aggressive timeframe.
The administration should work closely with faculty, students, staff, alumni, local law enforcement, WISE, DHMC and the UNH Preventions Innovations group to set up an independent commission composed of professionals in sexual violence prevention, public health, harm reduction and education, and organizational behavior and change to create a methodologically rigorous and data driven analysis of the “who, what, why, where and how” of campus sexual violence and harassment. This commission should begin its work with a campus climate survey (See Recommendation #1). As noted in the recommendation from the previous committee, the Committee On Student Safety and Accountability (COSSA)7, it should also “review the impact of gender, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and other factors on campus and the ways in which they shape the campus experience” for all stakeholders. This study should provide insight into how Dartmouth’s various social and athletic institutions, administrative structures, organizational decision making, behaviors, norms, traditions, cultures and subcultures, “brand,” leadership and more relate to sexual violence and harassment.
3. Define and make public a long-term strategy for addressing campus sexual violence and harassment and for improving prevention and survivor response efforts.
Based upon the results of the above analysis, the administration should work with the same group of stakeholders to create a long-term strategy for combatting sexual assault and harassment at Dartmouth. The strategy should focus on: deterring perpetrators; changing the dynamics between campus behaviors, cultures and institutions in order to end sexual violence and harassment; supporting victims; identifying and removing serial offenders; educating and disciplining facilitators; changing bystander behaviors and norms; and creating a culture where reporting sexual assault and harassment is encouraged and safe to do. It should take into account how race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, prior history of trauma, and other factors might create unique requirements for the strategy. In addition, it should include measurable goals, metrics for determining the effectiveness of various programs and driving adjustments, and a set of criteria for understanding when it might be necessary to reconstitute the outside panel, as described above, to recalibrate.
It seems clear that the College does not have a strategy for addressing sexual violence and harassment. From the outside, there seems to be too little effective coordination across different programs and people, information seems to be “siloed,” and no one seems to be sure who is empowered to make decisions. Discussions with employees, faculty and students who have worked closely with the College administration confirm these observations. These coordination and collaboration problems certainly owe part of their origin to the incredible administrative churn over the past few years. Hopefully the College’s staffing at the upper levels will stabilize soon. But these problems also stem from the lack of a clear, comprehensive strategy and a long-term resource plan. Instead, in the name of maintaining a neutral budget, the College continues to disinvest in staff and respected programs that address cultural (gender, race, class) issues in order to fund prevention programs whose effectiveness is unproven and new initiatives whose mandates are uncertain. Resourcing commitments come and go: Dean Johnson absolutely couldn’t find funding for any of the SPCSA’s recommendations but magically found funding for the CCAP. To the outside, there seems to be little rhyme or reason other than a motivation to appease the OCR investigators or to build a positive media story. A published strategy might help to fill this credibility gap.
A published strategy would also help the Dartmouth community to be well informed about Dartmouth’s goals and plans to address sexual violence and harassment and to hold the College accountable.
Somewhat related to this, the administrative turnover and turmoil over these past few years has really taken a toll on those College employees who work directly on these issues. Retention is appallingly low. There is a lot of burnout over the fact that the College’s interests and the survivor’s interests don’t always overlap. The “boots on the ground” people in this area are of high quality and fully committed. To lose one of them sets Dartmouth back years. Unfortunately, part of the fix is simply allowing enough time to pass under established leaders so employees feel they can effectively dig into their work. Having a clear strategy is also essential for employee satisfaction and retention. So is empowering employees and making it very clear who makes decisions and based on what criteria. What else should be done? Ask the relevant employees and do what they say. They’re the experts. It would also be useful to look into why Dartmouth can run multiple national searches and not find appropriate candidates for key positions in areas related to student health and wellness and diversity. From what I understand from my many contacts in the field of sexual violence prevention and response, it is in no small part due to Dartmouth’s poor reputation.
Lastly, there should be only one advisory committee internal to Dartmouth to collectively address sexual violence and harassment on campus, and it should have:
- a clear mission statement
- a clear mandate
- a clear budget
- public, timely minutes and documentation
- clear empowerment
- all proposals should include a timeline for implementation and how effectiveness will be measured
- if a committee proposal is denied action by the administration, a reason must be given in writing and published
4. Commit to aggressive intervention and punishment to target repeat sex offenders along with appropriate intervention and punishment for first-time offenders.
Dartmouth needs to fully recognize that rape is a serious crime most often perpetrated by repeat offenders – 91-95% of rapes are committed by serial offenders8 – but that there are first-time offenders as well.
In support of this recognition, there are changes that Dartmouth might still need to make to its sexual assault adjudication and investigation policy. We are still working on creating a redline copy of the final version so we can better understand what changes were made from the original and which of our recommendations were accepted. There might be more I want to say here, but I need to review the updated policy first. DartmouthChange will provide our input when this task is completed.
One thing that I know was ignored in the draft policy was a key recommendation from the COSSA report9: “The Committee believes that a student found responsible should bear the burden of accommodating the survivor and not the other way around. Accordingly, at a minimum, the sanction of a student found responsible for sexual assault should extend at least until the survivor has graduated; to be explicit, the student found responsible should not be permitted on campus until after the graduation ceremony of the survivor.” Hopefully this change has been made.
In general, the policy should better identify and remove serial offenders. Dartmouth’s incident reporting system should be revamped to more easily identify repeat sex offenders across the entire Dartmouth community and encourage their removal. There should be one integrated reporting system across the undergraduate and graduate schools. If requested, victims should be automatically alerted if someone reports an incident of sexual violence by the same offender. With this confirmation of an alleged serial offender, victims are less likely to blame themselves and more likely to feel empowered to press charges. Multiple victims should be able to press charges together. These changes have been suggested many times in the past, such as by the Emergency Response Subcommittee of the SPCSA in May/June of 2010, but rejected.
Every report of sexual misconduct should trigger two simultaneous investigations: an investigation into the incident being reported, and an investigation into the alleged perpetrator to better determine whether he or she is a serial offender. The city of Ashland, Oregon provides a model for this that could be fit to the college environment. Such an investigative model would provide valuable data that would better help Dartmouth to identify and discipline serial offenders.
Again, the College must effectively address the damaging beliefs, norms, and attitudes – and social institutions – that provide cover for serial perpetrators.
The College must also recognize that sexual harassment, including online harassment, is not trivial and is directly linked to sexual violence. It is a bias-motivated offense and gender discrimination and requires equal attention under Title IX. The College must provide consistent discipline for those who harass, threaten and/or stalk other students and publish the discipline taken. I provided Trustee Nate Fick with my analysis of what the College should do about Bored@Baker and other similar online sites. I would be happy to share my report with this committee upon request.
5. Improve the supportive focus on the victim & recognize that the College must open collaborate across its larger community to achieve this goal.
Sexual violence and harassment can radiate outwards and affect multiple aspects of a victim’s life for years to come. To truly support victims, the College must work across disciplines and the greater Dartmouth community. The recent report from the White House Task Force states this requirement quite clearly and persuasively. A holistic and comprehensive response is critical.
Over two years of investigation and many conversations with Dartmouth employees have led me to believe that there are several reasons the College does not like to collaborate outside its borders: 1) fear of losing control, including control of the message; 2) fear that working with other experts is an admission that the College’s own expertise is lacking; 3) inadequate resourcing, too many personnel changes, and a lack of a comprehensive, coherent strategy. For example, Dartmouth could benefit quite a bit from working with the regional NH Sexual Assault Resource Team, but the College rarely shows up for the monthly meeting, and when it does, representation always comes from a different person who is never empowered. There are many potential issues with Dartmouth’s new investigative model that should be worked out with local law enforcement and the county prosecutor, but Dartmouth doesn’t seem to want to have these discussions.
Dartmouth needs a cultural shift around collaboration outside its borders. There are many local, state and national experts who can help Dartmouth significantly. We should leverage their knowledge and willingness to collaborate to improve student safety. There are some positive developments in Dartmouth’s relationship with WISE, but they are largely the result of one employee’s dedication and thus tenuous.
Dartmouth needs a cultural shift around collaboration (and data sharing) within its borders as well. I think much of this would be addressed with consistent leadership and a strategy, but I think there’s more amiss here than just that. I suggest you directly ask employees who work in this area about how best to fix this issue.
There is a real credibility gap between the College’s rhetoric and the actual student-survivor experience. Dartmouth must go through the entire survivor “process” (for lack of a better description) from a student-survivor perspective and thoroughly and painstakingly outline all issues. Where there are conflicts between institutional needs or requirements and survivors’ needs – and there are many – the College must work with its broader expert community to come up with survivor-centric solutions. For example, there are confidentiality issues with some of Dartmouth’s survivor resources. One workaround would be for WISE to serve as Dartmouth’s go-to survivor resource. There are also many points in the process where action or inaction by the College, done without ill intent, can have devastating impacts on the survivor. For example, survivors have frequently not been alerted when their convicted perpetrators came back on campus after being suspended.
More specific recommendations include:
- Victims must have meaningful and expedient access to all medical, legal, financial and emotional support and resources that, as crime victims, they have the legal and ethical right to. This includes support available both within Dartmouth’s structure, such as a survivor advocate and full mental and physical health support, as well as support outside the College, such as WISE, law enforcement and legal resources.
- The College must sufficiently address victims’ needs from the time of the incident through graduation. The College must provide interim measures to protect victims who report even if they do not want to go through an investigation and adjudication. The College must also develop interim measures to protect a victim’s safety and health prior to the conclusion of the formal complaint process. The Clery Act mandates that institutions take such measures to minimize the burden on the victim, guidance from the OCR also supports the requirement, and the new Campus SaVE Act requires specific help as well. This is also supported by the COSSA report: “The Committee believes that a student found responsible should bear the burden of accommodating the survivor and not the other way around. Accordingly, at a minimum, the sanction of a student found responsible for sexual assault should extend at least until the survivor has graduated; to be explicit, the student found responsible should not be permitted on campus until after the graduation ceremony of the survivor.” The College must actively protect victims from persecution, harassment, and re-victimization.
- Financial aid policies should be reformed so that victims who take time off to recover are able to complete their Dartmouth education without incurring exorbitant costs.
- Dartmouth’s mental health staff should be restructured and expanded so wait times are reduced and the College can better provide long-term care as an option. The College has a duty to provide counseling for victims throughout their Dartmouth career. Counseling must also be provided in a timely manner, regardless of whether or not the victim states he or she is in immediate crisis. Forcing students to wait and limiting the number of counseling visits further hurts victims. It also signals that the College is not supportive of victims and that the long-term impacts of sexual violence are not the College’s problem. Staff need training to provide long-term care for students experiencing PTSD symptoms from harassment and threats as well as rape and other forms of sexual violence. Staff should also prioritize non-suicidal crises and improve their understanding of the mental health issues, symptoms and risk factors that are unique to Dartmouth. Dartmouth students with mental health issues tend to be high-functioning, which too often leads to their symptoms going unrecognized and eventually worsening. Additionally, Dartmouth should better incorporate the expertise of its own employees, such as Professor Kay Jankowski at the Geisel School of Medicine, who is a national expert on trauma in children and young adults. Dartmouth has a Trauma Interventions Research Center. Use it.
- The College must also recognize how an unsafe and unsupportive campus climate exacerbates the victims’ difficult situations.
- Pro bono legal support options for students should be formalized and publicized.
- Publish information about how to access “rape kits.” For years, DHMC has requested permission from the College to share this information but been turned down.
- Information about where to receive “date rape drug” testing and what it entails should also be published.
- The College must work to eliminate barriers to reporting.
- In addition, the College should provide explicit legal protection to the victim should they be further victimized by intimidation from outside the College. Unfortunately, we have learned in our investigations that such intimidation happens with some frequency, including from the parents of alleged perpetrators.
Related to this, sexual violence is not an unfortunate byproduct of (binge) drinking, and the College must end any public stance that there is a causal relationship between the two. We still hear this too often. Premeditation is often a part of campus sexual crimes. Alcohol is the most widely used “date rape” drug10, although other drugs like Rohypnol and GHB are not uncommon on campus.
6. Create a non-exclusionary Greek system.
There is a direct, causal relationship between sexual violence and harassment and the College’s current Greek system, which is a social framework based on exclusion, segregating the sexes and gender ideas that are too often damaging. The committee has been presented with plenty of evidence, research and anecdotes to support this claim. We all know there is no such thing as separate but equal. The Greek system provides the dominant social scene and has an undeniable direct role in shaping culture, behaviors and norms. Research bears this out.11
Sexual violence is not about sex. It is an abuse of gender-based power. Why let our social system promote the patterns of thinking and norms that directly lead to violence and other forms of discrimination? Again, behavior is patterned by local culture, and local culture comes from local institutions. The College must stop its support of a social system that is based on exclusion and stands against the College’s responsibility to provide an inclusive, non-discriminatory educational environment. It will be impossible to effectively address any problem of discrimination and exclusion while this system remains.
Still, the College has made it clear, publicly and privately, that changes to or the abolishment of the single-sex Greek system is off the table. Indeed, when students asked ex Board of Trustees Chair Steve Mandel about abolishing the Greek system, he responded “Do you have a billion dollars to invest in Dartmouth?”12 President Hanlon essentially said the same in a recent faculty meeting at which some members of this committee were present.
Dartmouth has an uneven history of addressing the inequities of its social institutions. In the 1950s, John Sloan Dickey gave an ultimatum to all fraternities to remove discriminatory clauses (except gender) from their charters or resign from their national chapters.13 Almost every president since Kemeny has publicly stated that they should have addressed the single-sex Greek system. President McLaughlin wrote that not doing so during his tenure was a significant failure.14 It’s my understanding that the faculty have voted to change the Greek system several times. It’s also my understanding that during Jim Wright’s tenure, the College Trustees voted to close the all-male fraternity system, but due to enormous pressure from wealthy alumni and student protests on campus the Trustees rescinded that decision. Many women – and men – have paid the price for the Trustees unwillingness to stand up to the pressure and protect them.
Many of our peer institutions addressed this issue when they became coeducational, and many have recently made significant changes for all the reasons listed above. While the remaining single-sex Greek systems at other college campuses might not be so problematic, that’s not the case at Dartmouth.15 By refusing to conduct thorough discussions about the viability of its dominant social structure, the College loses all credibility when it claims to be serious about eradicating sexual violence and harassment. The relationship between single-sex organizations and increased sexual violence is soundly supported by research. It is also very well supported by the testimonies of dozens of students who have confided in us. If the College were willing to release the data on student experiences in the Greek houses, we’re confident the data would support the link as well.
Students want16 and need the opportunity to create a different social environment on campus. While less exclusionary and segregated social structures will not in themselves solve the problem of sexual violence and harassment at Dartmouth, they are a prerequisite and should be part of a comprehensive strategy.
Why don’t we take the benefits of the Greek system – and there certainly are many – and use them as the basis for non-exclusionary, coed houses structured around educational pursuits and cultural affinities? Let the Greek houses have social power and let them thrive, but point them in the right direction by ensuring both men and women can participate equally in non-exclusionary co-ed houses. It reflects the real world too, where men and women need to work together with respect. It’s healthy, normal, fun and potentially very supportive of Dartmouth’s educational mission for students to form affinity groups like the Greek houses, but why premise them on a dangerous and outdated notion?
I was in KKG. I have had many, many conversations about the Greek system at Dartmouth. In talking to the men who believe that the Greek system should stay as is, I’ve found that their reason always comes down to their belief that they wouldn’t have been able to make such close male friends if women were “around all the time.” The direct quote from one of my closest Phi Delt friends was “I wouldn’t have been able to do all the great male bonding I did if you girls were in the way.”
In speaking with my female friends who hold onto the same notion, their reason always comes down to their need for at least one safe space on campus.
That’s not fulfilling the promise of co-education, and that’s not the Dartmouth I expected or that I support.
There is no value of this exclusionary social system to the College’s educational mission. Unfortunately, it serves too often to reinforce damaging gender stereotypes and behaviors. It rewards Dartmouth’s peculiar brand of hypermasculinity. It pits women against women – particularly younger women – as they vie for social recognition by the men.
It can’t change from within as the Greek systems’ basic premise – exclusion – is wrong. Besides, we have had 40 plus years of opportunity for change from within. Look at the recent example of Beta. They were in trouble for sex tapes back when I was on campus and recently kicked off “permanently” for similar problems. Well-meaning alums lobbied for Beta to be reinstated, with pledges that this time would be different as they would be closely involved and would help provide “adult supervision” for Beta’s transition. Well…. The committee knows the story, right? Do we forget our history at Dartmouth?
I include secret societies in this analysis as well.
The Greek houses should all be non-exclusionary and be permitted to re-form around affinities that are more fitting to the College’s educational mission, perhaps even aligned with President Hanlon’s academic vision. What is planned for the residential dorms is basically what should happen with the Greek houses.
7. On-going reforms of the College’s sexual assault investigation and adjudication process
Again, we are still working on creating a redline copy of the final version so we can better understand what changes were made from the original and which of our recommendations were accepted. There might be more I want to say here, but I need to review the updated policy first. DartmouthChange will provide our input when this task is completed.
However, we can say that we continue to emphasize that equal and vigorous commitment must be made to removing the social and cultural supports of sexual violence at Dartmouth as well as to improving support for survivors.17 We are generally supportive of the proposal with the changes we suggested in April, but we are still concerned that the College is acting impressionistically rather than comprehensively. The new policy seems to have been made without a clear, thorough and public understanding of the root causes of sexual assault and harassment at Dartmouth and how these policy changes will address these root causes. For example, how might this mandatory expulsion for perpetrators of a limited range sexual assaults – which prima facie sounds promising – have a chilling effect on reporting and increase victims’ burdens if the culture still supports the belief that victims are rarely truthful?
8. Hold mandatory, comprehensive sexual assault prevention education for all students, administrators, staff, and faculty who could reasonably come in contact with a victim of sexual assault – including trustees.
We support the recommendation of many experts in the field as well as the government that all students receive mandatory and comprehensive sexual violence prevention education. Rather than focusing on a single initiative, research points to the need for broad-based approaches.18 The programs must be tailored to the particular audience depending the level of their awareness of the issue, which often correlates with where they are in their education, i.e. freshman fall versus sophomore spring.
This training should happen repeatedly throughout a student’s time on campus19, starting from before they matriculate as freshmen. Along with prevention best practices, mandatory training should include (not necessarily all at once!): familiarization with the reporting process; discussion of relevant federal and local laws regarding sexual violence, harassment, stalking and hate crimes; how to be an appropriate “first responder” and provide support for victims; understanding of Dartmouth’s investigative and adjudication process; review of where to get a rape kit and drug testing completed; Dartmouth’s Standards of Conduct and Principle of Community; and emphasis on the important community value of reporting, while noting that it is the victim’s right to not report for whatever reason and that interfering with reporting in any way is a seriously disciplinable offense.
We recommend that the College partner with the UNH Preventions Innovations group to create a comprehensive prevention strategy. They are the national leaders, referenced by the White House, and they are also linked into many NH state resources that would be very beneficial to Dartmouth. The strategy and supportive programs need adequate long-term staffing and resourcing.
In addition, per the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights “Dear Colleague” letter, all members of the community who could reasonably come in contact with a victim of sexual violence should also have sexual violence awareness training.20 This finding is additionally supported by the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women.21 This would include trustees, faculty, staff, Greek house advisors, athletic coaches and any other staff and administrators with related responsibilities. The truth is that almost anyone on campus could be the first point of contact for a victim of sexual violence, and so almost everyone needs to know how to respond appropriately and how to direct the victim to professional resources in the community and at the College. It is important to note that mandatory programs can be creative and dynamic and have been proven to be effective.
9. Establish full transparency, accountability and inclusivity in campus sexual violence data collection and distribution, decision-making and resource allocation.
- Publish real-time information, including location, time and nature of every reported act of sexual violence on campus. The community needs to be immediately notified of every instance of a felonious sexual assault. The administration has this information but chooses not to share it. There are multiple databases of data, according to administrators, but very little seems to be done with it.
- Publish the disciplinary actions taken against perpetrators of sexual violence in real-time as well as on a quarterly basis.22
- Publish the administration’s annual assessments of student activities to ensure they do not violate the school’s policies against sexual discrimination and violence. This is required by law, but as far as we know, has never been done.
- Publish its annual input to the National College Health Assessment survey. Other colleges and universities do this.
- Published unedited data from annual campus climate surveys.
- Regularly host follow-ups to the SPCSA’s open symposiums to give updates on the implementation of the college’s strategy and to formally solicit ongoing input from the greater Dartmouth community. Publicly respond as to why any SPCSA recommendations are not being taken up.
10. Create one campus-wide set of policies and procedures for reporting sexual harassment, assault, and stalking as well as for victim support.
A major impediment to identifying serial perpetrators is the lack of a campus-wide procedure regarding reports of sexual violence. This is easily addressable by creating solid internal procedures and training protocols that take into account the most common ways that victims report. These improvements can also better ensure that victims receive appropriate medical, emotional and legal support. In addition, all potential points of initial contact should be adequately trained.
11. Demonstrate unequivocal leadership
It is vitally important for our leaders to speak out firmly, truthfully and often about the epidemic of sexual violence on our campus and to address the entire college community, including alumni. Hyperbole damages the College’s credibility and marginalizes the experiences of student and alumni victims. Clearly naming sexual violence and harassment as problems and being unflinching in discussing their root causes – as “difficult” or “off-putting” as it might be – is essential to bringing the community together in a collective solution. The very nature of openness and accountability in a community is its own form of prevention.
This message needs to be understood and supported by everyone associated with the College, from Trustees to alumni who serve the College in other capacities. As an example, take recent comments by John Daukas ’84, Alumni Association President and former President of the Alumni Council. After the Dimensions protest in spring 2013, Mr. Daukas was referenced and quoted in The Dartmouth23: “Yet Daukas said he believed student protesters recently cited exaggerated figures about sexual assault. Daukas said neither he nor the students he talked to believe that 95 percent of sexual assaults on campus are not reported.” Later in the article, he is directly quoted: “That sounds like a preposterous number,”24 Daukas said. “That’s like if a third of the women on campus were being sexually assaulted.” Later, he stated “We shouldn’t make 98 percent of the students unhappy in order to make a couple of students happy.” Mr. Daukas recently commented on a friend’s Facebook page that reports of high levels of drinking at Dartmouth are exaggerated and unflattering comparisons of Dartmouth to other universities like Yale are unfair because Hanover has overzealous police enforcement, not a problem with high-risk drinking.
Mr. Daukas has spent years of service to Dartmouth. I’m sure he’s a good and kind man, and his loyalty is laudable. His uninformed opinions are not. I don’t understand why an adult with some responsibility at Dartmouth would ever publicly discredit and marginalize any Dartmouth student. Such comments also make it more difficult for the Dartmouth community to honestly face our social problems and collectively address them.
1. Nancy Cantalupo. “Burying Our Heads in the Sand: Lack of Knowledge, Knowledge Avoidance, and the Persistent Problem of Campus Peer Sexual Violence.” Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, Vol. 43, 2011.
2. A cogent, well researched argument for this separation is made in Nancy Cantalupo’s “Institution-Specific Victimization Surveys: Addressing Legal and Practical Disincentives to Gender-Based Violence Reporting on College Campuses.” Trauma, Violence and Abuse, 2014.
3. UNH is home to the most renowned group of national experts on sexual violence prevention and intervention, and Dartmouth should be working closely with them. Their focus is unique in that they include both researchers and practitioners. Their work defines the national benchmark for evidence-based solutions. Indeed, Vice President Joe Biden chose to announce his efforts to address campus sexual assault at UNH specifically because of its stellar work, and they have been integral to the White House Task Force.
5. From a letter to the College from the United Campus Ministries, Feb. 2013: “We hope the College will move as quickly as possible to gather the best possible data about the extent and nature of sexual assault within our community and share this information openly. We urge the administration to listen to the many sources of wisdom within both the College and the local community, and integrate what they learn as they collaboratively craft a comprehensive strategy to create a community free of assault.”
6. Futures Without Violence. “Beyond Title IX: Guidelines for Preventing and Responding to Gender-based Violence in Higher Education”
7. From COSSA, Nov. 2013: “While the events of this past spring have brought campus climate concerns to the forefront, climate related issues are neither new nor unique to Dartmouth. These issues should be confronted and addressed, as a community. To do this we must have an objective and grounded understanding of our campus community. To that end, we recommend that Dartmouth partner with external social science experts to perform a methodologically rigorous and data driven campus study that would include, but not be limited to: A review of the impact of gender, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and other factors on campus, and the ways in which they shape the Dartmouth experience for students, faculty and staff. More specifically, we believe that it would be of great value to collect data that provide insight into how a diverse community of students, faculty and staff experience Dartmouth’s campus learning and work environment. Additionally, these data will help prioritize the allocation of resources as we work to identify the specific ways in which issues of climate manifest at Dartmouth. In our research we have found a wide range of impassioned and conflicting views on the role of Greek Letter organizations and this study could include a review of the ways in which Greek Letter Organizations impact our campus. The data gathered will assist Dartmouth leadership in making the best decisions moving forward.”
8. David Lisak, PhD. Sexual Predators on Campus: Research Studies and Statistics
10. Allen J. Ottens and Kathey Hotelling, eds. Sexual Violence on Campus
11. Over recent years, scholars have raised important questions about the value of fraternities and sororities on college campuses, in particular with reference to an array of dysfunctional behaviors in the Greek system: alcohol abuse (Wechsler, Kuh, and Davenport 1996); academic dishonesty and low levels of achievement (Blimling 1993; McCabe and Bowers 2009; Pike 2000); violent forms of hazing (Jones 2004; Nuwer 1990, 2001, 2004; Sweet 1999); homophobia and heterosexism (DeSantis and Coleman 2008; Yeung and Stombler 2000; Yeung, Stombler, and Wharton 2006); patriarchy, sexism, and sexual assault (Berkowitz and Padavic 1999; Copen-haver and Grauerholz 1991; Kalof 1993; Kalof and Cargill 1991; Nurius, et al. 1996; Scott 1965; Stombler 1994); and class-based exclusionary practices (Kendall 2008; Syrett 2009; Turk 2004). As of October 2009, there were over 750,000 undergraduate members in over 12,000 chapters on more than 800 campuses throughout North America (NIC 2010; NPC 2010; NPHC 2010) (From: A Paradox of Participation). Other relevant research includes Tyler, K.A., D.R. Hoyt and L.B. Whitbeck. (1998). “Coercive Sexual Strategies,” Violence and Victims, 13(1), 47-61, and Lackie, L. and A.F. deMan. (1997). “Correlates of Sexual Aggression Among Male University Students,” Sex Roles, 37, 451-457. There are many relevant references in Nancy Cantalupo’s breakthrough analysis “Campus Violence: Understanding the Ordinary through the Extraordinary” (2009). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. Paper 428.
12. Dartblog: RealTalkers Act Out Again
13. http://www.dartmouth.edu/~library/rauner/archives/oral_history/oh_interviews_pdf/KemenyInterview.pdf?mswitch-redir=classic p.19. We encourage you to read President Kemeny’s entire oral history, much of which is about his leadership in bringing co-education to Dartmouth College.
14. See various Presidential oral histories at http://www.dartmouth.edu/~library/rauner/archives/oral_history
15. This is a topic in numerous undergraduate and graduate theses now housed in Dartmouth’s Rauner library.
16. The Dartmouth recently ran a survey, which suggests that student support for the fraternity system is soft. The paper reported that “nearly one-third of respondents thought the College would be better off without a Greek system, a sentiment one might not expect to hear in day-to-day conversations. Approximately the same proportion of people indicated that the College would benefit from an entirely coed Greek system. Our analysis didn’t consider the extent to which these two positions overlapped, but the possibility provides an interesting thought for discussion.” Iris Liu, “Time for Change?” The Dartmouth, February 22, 2013. http://www.thedartmouth.com/2013/02/22/mirror/time-for-change). Also see the recent Panhellenic Council letter.
17. We must base our response to sexual violence and harassment on victims’ needs. The cycle of non-reporting and how that perpetuates violence through silence means it is imperative that victims have a fully supportive environment in which to report. Research shows that 90% of campus sexual violence survivors don’t report, which says a lot about most campus responses and processes. We don’t have the actual data from Dartmouth’s campus to know the gap between actual incidence rate and reporting, but anecdotally, the results of national research on campus reporting seems to be applicable to Dartmouth.
18. While we are supportive of Dartmouth’s Bystander Intervention program, it is not the “only evidence-based answer,” as the administration presents it. Much research, as well as Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education, recommend multiple campus-wide programs involving all constituents of the College (students, faculty, staff, community members) to effectively deal with campus sexual violence. We recommend reading “The Evaluation of Campus-Based Gender Violence Prevention Programming: What We Know about Program Effectiveness and Implications for Practitioners” by Roberta Gibbons (http://www.vawnet.org/Assoc_Files_VAWnet/AR_EvaluationCampusProgramming.pdf) and “Improving College Campus−Based Prevention of Violence Against Women: A Strategic Plan for Research Built on Multipronged Practices and Policies” by Victoria L. Banyard (http://tva.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/02/04/152483801452102).
19. See the same recommendation in the excellent set of guidelines from the Avon Foundation for Women and Futures without Violence, called “Beyond Title IX: Guidelines for Preventing and Responding to Gender-based Violence in Higher Education.”
21. See U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, Grants to
Reduce Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking on Campus, and Cantalupo, p. 666, “Campus Violence: Understanding the Extraordinary through the Ordinary.”
22. This action is supported by the 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter.
24. The statistic actually comes not from the demonstrators but from the FBI and the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education.