Based on our experience, research, and discussions with students and staff, we believe the following strategic actions must be taken immediately by the College.
In addition, we proposed to the administration that we would help organize and fund a set of related immediate, concrete actions. Because the College has so far declined to respond to our proposal, we will move forward with these on our own as much as possible. Our proposal is appended to the list of strategic actions.
As well, we continue to investigate new ideas, with a focus on how to meet the requirements of those most in need — women in their first two terms of college — and how to quickly target and remove perpetrators, who are almost all serial offenders and thus have unique characteristics.
1. Hold mandatory sexual assault education for all students, community members, administrators, staff, and faculty who could reasonably come in contact with a victim of sexual assault, as well as for all trustees.
Prevention begins with education. We support the recommendation of many experts in the field that all students receive mandatory sexual assault awareness education. This training should happen throughout a student’s time on campus (1), and successful completion of a program should be a requirement for graduation.
It is important to note that mandatory programs can be creative, dynamic and are proven effective. See our FAQ on this point.
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 assault awareness training. This would include trustees, faculty, staff, Greek house advisors, athletic coaches and any other staff and administrators with related responsibilities.
2. Conduct an annual, independent survey of community attitudes surrounding sexual assault on campus, with a particular focus on the student experience.
The only way to have an “evidence-based,” quantitative and qualitative benchmark of what’s actually happening on campus and what programs are effective (or not) is to collect data anonymously through an independent survey (2). This survey should be published annually. Dartmouth should show further leadership by getting peer institutions to do the same in a standardized way.
3. Define and make public a long-term strategy for addressing sexual assault on campus and for centralizing prevention and response efforts.
We urge the administration to work closely with faculty, students, staff and alumni to set up an independent commission composed of professionals in violence prevention, public health, harm reduction and education to create a long-term strategy for combatting sexual assault at Dartmouth. This should be the one commission formed to collectively address sexual assault on campus, and it should have:
- a clear mission statement
- a clear mandate
- a clear budget
- timely minutes and documentation accessible to the public
- clear empowerment
- all proposals should include a timeline for implementation and a feedback loop, or another way of confirming efficacy
4. In the interest of changing the culture at Dartmouth that leads to sexual assault, place all “options” on the table for discussion and review, including the Greek system.
The College must consider the relationship between sexual assault and harassment and the Greek system, which is a social framework based on exclusion and segregation of the sexes, as well as the value of this exclusionary social system to the College’s educational mission.
5. Establish full transparency, accountability and inclusivity in campus sexual assault data collection and distribution, decision-making and resource allocation.
- Publish real-time information, including location, time and nature of every reported sexual assault on campus. 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 (3)
- Publish the annual assessments (required by the Office of Civil Rights) of students activities, ensuring they do not violate the school’s policies against sexual discrimination and violence
- Publish its annual input to the National College Health Assessment survey
- Regularly host follow-ups to the open symposium held on 1/28/2011 to give updates on the implementation of the recommendations produced by this community group and to formally solicit ongoing input from the greater Dartmouth community.
6. Fully recognize that sexual assault is a serious crime, most often perpetrated by repeat offenders.
Sexual assault is not an unfortunate byproduct of (binge) drinking, and the College must end its public stance that there is a causal relationship between the two. Premeditation is often a part of campus sexual crimes, and alcohol is the most widely used “date rape” drug (4). In addition, 91-95% of rapes are committed by serial offenders (5). We believe that a full recognition of these facts would significantly improve the College’s efforts, particularly in the area of prevention.
7. Establish a “zero tolerance” policy for felonious sexual assault.
Any student found guilty by the Committee on Standards of a serious offence involving sexual assault should be expelled.
8. Unequivocal leadership
It is vitally important for our leaders to speak out firmly and often about the epidemic of sexual violence on our campus and to address the entire college community, including alumni.
Again, we proposed to the administration that we would help organize and fund the following immediate, concrete actions. The College has so far declined to respond, so we will move forward with these on our own as much as possible. We look forward to your help – join us!
1. To become active, continuing participants in both the Committee on Student Safety and Accountability (COSSA) and Student and Presidential Committee on Sexual Assault (SPCSA) in order to provide a link between the alumni/community and the administration, committees and faculty and to provide a more transparent channel of communication between the alumni, the committees and the administration. In this process, and others, to listen to what the administration and the students are saying on this issue – if they, in fact, say it openly.
–> The administration has denied alumni representation on COSSA. We hope to participate in the SPCSA.
2. Work with the Dean of the College’s office to identify, secure and outfit an office for Dartmouth’s SAAP staff within a ‘campus center’ facility. This would include fundraising as needed to secure and outfit the space and staff time to work through the issues in identifying and securing the space.
–> This has the same intent as the proposal for a Violence Prevention Center that came from 2010’s open community symposium on sexual assault at Dartmouth, which the administration has so far declined to support. A campus center for violence prevention would provide a useful, centralized physical space for the college’s current programs – enabling them to better coordinate and making things easier for students – and would also provide a much needed physical statement of Dartmouth’s commitment to ending sexual assault.
As a result, we are scoping out how to create a Hanover office with WISE.
3. Work with the Dean of the College’s office to identify and/or develop, customize, organize, administer and deliver a mandatory, annual training program for all students specifically focusing on violence, sexual assault and consensual v. non-consensual sexual relations. Failure by any student to complete such mandatory training would preclude them from receiving their degree participating in any extracurricular activities, including athletics and any GLOS entity. This would include research, evaluation, development, fundraising and administrative support for such training.
–> We continue to push for this. Mandatory training is an essential component to any effective strategy for eradicating sexual assault on campus.
4. Work with the Dean of the College’s office to recruit or train, equip and fund a sexual assault ‘swat team’ that can be deployed 24/7 to provide additional coverage and support for high profile event weekends, in order to leverage the capacity of SAAP. The key aspect of ANY response, but particularly this concept, is that a victim only be required to do two things: 1) get to a safe place; and 2) make ONE call and tell the story ONE time to invoke a cascade of intervention and services.
–> We are considering various plans for this action.
5. Work with the Dean of the College’s office and the College Counsel’s office to define, evaluate and implement a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for the College which assures that a victim is not at risk of harassment, intimidation or disruption of their educational career. In addition, to use the means at our disposal to extend such a policy to those organizations over which the College does not have direct control, such as the fraternities and sororities.
–> We are working on this along with other related policy changes. For example, sexual assault related COS appeals should be heard by an independent panel, not the Dean of the College, who arguably has a vested interest in keeping the number of convictions down and can be intimidated through influential alumni.
6. Annual reconvening of the Sexual Assault Symposium.
–> In the absence of a public, long-term strategy from the College and a method for public input with transparency, etc. this symposium will be its substitute. We will help to ensure this happens annually.
7. Posting “real time” crime reports and making them available to student and parents.
–> We are already doing this. See the Assault Report section of our web site.
(1) 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.”
(3) This action is supported by the “Dear Colleague” letter.
(4) “Sexual Violence on Campus” edited by Allen J. Ottens and Kathy Hotelling.
(5) Sexual Predators on Campus:Research Studies and Statistics; David Lisak, PhD.