Response to the Proposed Unified Disciplinary Procedures for Sexual Assault by Students and Student Organizations

The following response was submitted to the College on April 14, 2014 in response to the College’s proposed sexual assault policy revisions.


SUMMARY

We are encouraged by Dartmouth’s efforts to improve its sexual assault investigative process. The sanctioning guidelines to better identify and remove perpetrators show responsiveness to long-standing community requests. While experimental, the proposed investigation-only model of resolving complaints is welcomed and has shown promise on other campuses. In combination (and with revision), the proposed changes will help create a safer educational environment for all Dartmouth students. The President and the Board of Trustees are to be commended for this significant step.

However, despite these positive points, this policy repeatedly exposes that it not only is not in keeping with best practices, it also does not meet the minimal requirements of Title IX and the Clery Act – and is thus not compliant with existing law – and even re-institutes some rules that have been eliminated in the criminal law decades ago. Michelle J. Anderson, Dean of CUNY’s law school, explains this well in Legacy of the Prompt Complaint Requirement, Corroboration Requirement, and Cautionary Instructions on Campus Sexual Assault. We heard from the College that President Hanlon and Dean Johnson attended a recent meeting of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault (WHTF), but the proposal points to a seeming lack of understanding of what is actually being discussed in that task force.

The two main violations of existing and forthcoming guidance clarifications are:

  • The lack of protection for Reporting Persons’ confidentiality:
    The WHTF is likely to address this issue in significant detail in forthcoming recommendations. The WHTF recommendation will probably take an approach to this issue that will be like the military’s restricted and unrestricted reporting system. The policy from the College proposes quite the opposite. The proposed policy does not define who on campus is required to advance reports of sexual assault to investigation and disciplinary action, even if that compromises victims’ confidentiality. It also fails to provide anyone to whom victims can report who can keep the report confidential and who can help the victim access services. Under these proposed changes, the only victims who will likely report are those who are comfortable with an investigation that may not keep their information confidential, and the victims who are unwilling to report unless their information is kept confidential but who need to access services will not be able to access those services.
  • The failure to define a prompt process for resolution of a report that goes through a full investigation and disciplinary proceeding:
    The policy refers to an “investigation” and constraints it to a time period of 60 days, which is the time period used in the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights’ (OCR) guidance. But the policy doesn’t explain what this “investigation” entails and specifies that this investigation is not part of the disciplinary proceedings. Then the proposed policy discusses the “disciplinary investigation,” which is a part of the disciplinary proceedings, and describes a process that is basically what the OCR means when it uses the term “investigation.” The proposed policy says the disciplinary investigation will be “prompt” but provides no specific time period for what “prompt” means. If the College takes 60 days to conduct the “investigation,” it will already have used up the period that OCR defines as “prompt” before it even starts the “disciplinary investigation.” Finally, the policy allows for a “review” (basically an appeal of the findings made by the investigator conducting the “disciplinary investigation” or of the sanction decision by the “Sanctioning Panel”) where the Dean could “remand” the case for an entirely new investigation. A “remand” would extend the time for the resolution to close to if not more than double the time already used. There is no limit on number of “reviews” or “remands,” so the process could drag on endlessly.

There is one bright spot in the policy: the use of an investigation-only model of resolving complaints, using an outside, independent investigator. Although this model is very experimental, it is showing promising initial results at several schools. The proposed model requires some changes, however. The proposed policy implies that the Sanctioning Panel is making factual findings. This should not be the case. All factual findings, including whether the standard of proof has been met by the Reporting Person’s evidence, should be done by the investigator. The Sanctioning Panel should merely be deciding, based on the factual findings of the investigator, what the appropriate sanction is. The independence of the investigator is essential for the model to have true legitimacy, and there is no explanation of how the investigator will be hired, funded and managed, or how general oversight will work.

The College must take more time to craft the right policy. In particular, the College must:

  • Wait for the WHTF to come out with its recommendations. It’s our understanding that these are likely to be accompanied by additional clarifying guidance from OCR regarding Title IX and will address the timeline for the new Clery/VAWA regulations, which are being finalized.
  • Bring in a consultant expert in Title IX, Clery and institutional responses to sexual violence who can comprehensively revamp Dartmouth’s sexual violence response system, including this policy and fitting this policy into the holistic approach the College must take, especially under VAWA/Clery, which has provisions requiring schools to create effective prevention programs, not just disciplinary procedures.
  • Work with other outside resources that have the requisite expertise with these issues, such as local law enforcement, the county prosecutor, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, and the local rape crisis center.

In addition, we 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.1 We are generally supportive of the proposal with the changes we suggest in this document, but we are still concerned that the College is acting impressionistically rather than comprehensively. This proposal 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? How can the College move forward with this proposal without a concurrent and significant update to its sexual harassment policy to include well known campus problems like cyberbullying, stalking, and gender-based hate speech, which all contribute to Dartmouth’s hostile climate? We include an overview of more comprehensive changes Dartmouth needs to make at the end of our specific comments on the policy.

COMMENTS

We presume the College’s objectives with this proposed policy revision are: 1) to address its Title IX obligations to provide an educational environment for all students that’s free of sexual assault, which is a form of discrimination based on sex and prohibited under Title IX; 2) address its obligations under the Clery Act; and 3) to fulfill the letter and spirit of both federal regulations. Therefore, we analyzed the proposed changes based on what we believe the College’s goals should be to support these objectives: a sexual assault sanctioning policy and investigative model that effectively addresses perpetrators, provides unambiguous support and respect for the victim and his/her choices, and improves data collection and data dissemination in order to better measure the effectiveness of prevention and intervention programs.

We trust this is not the only round of input the community will have. We hope that the College will publicly respond to all input and share the responses of other community members so we can collectively learn.

Our comments, based on the above goals, are as follows:

First, for clarity and better comprehension, add a section explaining step by step what the Reporting and Responding persons can expect. Aside from the obvious reasons of clarity, this is important to promoting understanding and support.

SPECIFIC NOTES

Numbers and letters refer to specific sections in the College’s proposed sexual assault policy revisions.

I. Introduction: Statement of Policy

  • Define sexual harassment in this document, even though it’s addressed in another policy. Refer to OCR guidance.
  • The policy should include an explanation of the procedures for institutional disciplinary action in cases of dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking as well as sexual assault. This will be required by VAWA/Campus SaVE.
  • The College is missing an opportunity to better explain why the adjudication process exists in its particular form and why the victim must have access to the College’s adjudication process (Title IX requirement to get federal funds) as well to the state criminal process, and how these are separate and can run in parallel. The preface should better describe the intent behind the policy and the law and federal guidelines that support this process. For example:
    • Purpose of this adjudication process is to create a non-discriminatory educational environment, which the College is compelled to do both by moral reasons and to continue receiving federal funds under Title IX statute.
    • Goal is for everyone to be treated fairly and with respect. College’s obligation under Title IX is to stop the discrimination, prevent its re-occurrence, and address the impact on the individual and the community.
    • Explain why reliance upon preponderance of evidence. College adjudications are based on civil law, not criminal, for very good reasons for both the victim and the accused. This issue has been written about extensively, such as in OCR “Dear Colleague” letters.
    • Add a clear statement about protecting students from retaliation (requirement of Campus SaVE and Title IX).
    • Change “removal of recognition” to “permanent removal of recognition.”
  • Reconsider how student organizations are handled. The intent is perhaps good, but organizations are fictional entities and can’t sexually assault people. Does this mean “members of” a student organization? This is a problem in definitions of “reporting person” and “responding person” as well. There should be a separate section—probably in sanctions—involving student organizations and how the college will hold them accountable under this policy.

II. Definitions

    B. Consent: Change to “Consent means clear, unambiguous, affirmative and voluntary agreement, expressed in mutually understandable words or actions, to engage in a particular activity…. Consent is not valid if …. (2) the initiating party, acting as a reasonable person, would have known or reasonably should have known…” Clarify that intoxication or being under the influence does not provide an excuse for not being held as a “reasonable person” under this policy. Also clarify that consent while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not possible. Also add that lack of physical resistance or lack of saying “no” is not indicative of whether consent was given.

    D. Reporting Person:
    Change to “a person who reports that he or she…” See earlier comment on Student Organization.

    F. Retaliation:
    Change “pressuring a person to drop or support a complaint” to “pressuring a person to drop a complaint.” The inaccurate implication of the original phrasing is that victims do things that question their credibility. Also, change “may constitute a violation” to “will constitute.” Consider including specific point that sexual harassment, including online behavior, is included in this.

    G. Sexual Assault:
    Change “For brevity, references to Sexual Assault in this policy include Retaliation unless the context indicates otherwise” to “For brevity, references to Sexual Assault in this policy include Retaliation unless the otherwise indicated.”

    Additional Definitions should include:

    • Third Party Reporting Person: Confirm that reports from such people are also investigated
    • Evidence: What does it mean and what is its exact role in an investigation, how it is to be preserved and by whom, and examples. Per Campus SaVE, evidence that has to be preserved is “that which may assist in proving that the alleged criminal offense occurred or may be helpful in obtaining a protection order.” But it’s not clear what this means for a Reporting and Responding person. Drug testing needs to be available at Dick’s House and DHMC (ruffies, GHB, etc.) and should be done as a matter of course, unless the victim requests otherwise. Again, emphasize exoneration for drug/alcohol use by victim.
    • Report: What constitutes a report? What info is needed? Are anonymous reports ok?
    • Confidentiality: Again, this should be addressed in a two-track reporting system, to be created once WHTF and OCR FAQs are published. It needs to be clearly defined.
    • Coercion
    • Force
    • Incapacitation
    • Threat
    • Domestic Violence
    • Dating Violence
    • Stalking

III. Reporting Sexual Assault
Change first sentence to “The College strongly encourages the prompt reporting of Sexual Assault to the College. The decision to open an investigation is under the victim’s control. Unless the victim specifies otherwise, the College will always investigate, without reservation. The College also encourages reporting of sexual assault to local law enforcement. See below for more information about reports to law enforcement. Lastly, the College also encourages Reporting Persons to work closely with community support services, such as the local domestic and sexual violence crisis center WISE as well as the College’s own resources.” Specify that anonymous reporting is permitted, but that investigations cannot occur if the report remains anonymous. Also specify that at any time a Reporting Person can change their mind and decide they want an investigation and the process by which they need to do this. DartmouthChange and many others over the years have made recommendations to the College about instituting a “blind reporting system” in which Reporting Persons can be alerted if someone reports a sexual assault by the same perpetrator. Again, there is guidance forthcoming from the federal government that will be directly applicable to this section. Also re-emphasize that reporting persons will not be disciplined if drugs and/or alcohol are involved.

    A. Contacts for Reporting:
    This section needs significant revision. Forthcoming guidance will be directly relevant here.

    B. Timeliness:
    See comments in the introduction to this document. The language here goes against OCR guidance.

    C. Reports to Law Enforcement:
    Change to “The College also encourages – but does not require – anyone who has experienced a Sexual assault…. The Dartmouth student disciplinary process is completely separate from the criminal process. The Reporting Person has rights under Title IX that cannot be resolved under a criminal process, so the College has separate mechanisms for determining whether a Title IX violation has occurred. Those mechanisms operate independently from the criminal process and should not be delayed if there is a parallel criminal process.” This is per OCR Dear Colleague letter and 2001 guidance. Should mention WISE on equal footing with the College’s own resources here.

    D. Preservation of Evidence:
    What is evidence? What does preservation mean? Who has responsibility for preservation? Where do students get access to rape kits, GHB testing and etc.? Is evidence under this definition required for campus disciplinary investigations? Who has responsibility for preservation?

IV. The College’s Response Procedure

Remove “generally.” The College must follow this procedure in all cases.

    A. Services:
    Why would the Responding Person be notified of policies, etc. if the Reporting Person didn’t want to initiate an investigation? Rewrite to: “The Responding Person will be offered appropriate support and other resources, including information about off-campus support services, and notified of applicable policies. Also, need to be more specific about confidentiality – “to the extent permitted by law” is meaningless to students who have just experience severe trauma. Forthcoming guidance will be directly relevant here. Change last sentence to “The College does not tolerate retaliatory conduct and will always take appropriate steps to prevent and/or address retaliatory conduct.”

    B. Interim Measures:
    This list is not comprehensive, particularly in regards to forthcoming guidance and updates.

    Further, regarding the need to improve support for the victim, this must include the minimum sanctioning guideline recommended by COSSA: “Accountability for Students found guilty of SA: 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…. Students found responsible for sexual misconduct should expect to not be on campus at the same time as the reporting student. Sanctioning will take into account the enrollment pattern of the reporting student to ensure that he/she is able to make continued academic progress in a safe and supportive environment.”

    C. Investigation
    See earlier comments about the inadvisability of how this section is currently written. There should be no “preliminary” investigation. If the victim wants an investigation, it is what is described in the disciplinary investigation, and there should be no ability on the College’s part to stop an investigation if this is what the victim wants. This is required by OCR’s guidance.

    Also, revise third sentence to “The scope and timing of further action will depend upon a number of factors including: whether the reporting person is anonymous, in which case no further action can be taken; whether the reporting person is not anonymous but still wants no further action taken; and whether ongoing evidence-gathering by the police requires a temporary delay. In general, a delay due to police activity should be no longer than ten days.” (from Dear Colleague Letter)

    D. Disciplinary Process:
    For clarity, rewrite to: “Should the Reporting Person wish to move forward with the College’s disciplinary process, a Disciplinary Investigation is initiated.” In general, this section needs significant revision, as forthcoming guidance will be directly relevant here.

      1. Disciplinary Investigation:

        (a) “For complaints of retaliation…..” why would the process described in this line ever be necessary?
        Delete: “In cases where the Title IX Coordinator after consultation with the Director of Judicial Affairs determines that the allegations, if proven, would not constitute Sexual Assault, the Reporting Person will be advised of other disciplinary, legal and support options as appropriate, and no further Sexual Assault investigation will be pursued.” All victim complaints must be investigated/dealt with based on what the victim wants, not the College’s decisions.

        (b) The notice to the parties must also include a timeline for the completion of the investigation.

        (c) Define “prompt.” This section sounds like what should happen at section C “Investigation.” Clarify what the advisor’s role and responsibilities are. Information from section V(E) should be here as well.

        Per the recommendations of Dr. David Lisak, a nationally recognized researcher on sexual assault, every investigation of an incident should trigger 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. The College should also institute a blind reporting system. This has been suggested many times over the decades, and indeed DartmouthChange invested some time into outlining such a system for the College. Joint/group investigations should be permitted with a serial perpetrator.

        Change “advisor” to “advisor of their choice,” which is the exact language of the Campus SaVE Act.

        d) Which disciplinary provision under Dartmouth’s Student Code for Conduct would the false statement testimony trigger? Would be good to know this.

        (e) This section doesn’t make sense. Isn’t the investigator going to talk to the witnesses as part of the investigation as defined in C? Why would there be identification of witnesses after the investigator has already made his or her factual findings?

        (f) Regarding “to the extent permitted by law.” This needs to be clarified. If there are limitations under the law, then the College’s general counsel should be informed of them and state them in this policy. It’s also unacceptable that the Director of Judicial Affairs be able to determine the conditions under which the student will have access to the recordings. Both Title IX and the Clery Act require equal access: rules must be determine in advance, stated clearly and provided equally to both parties.

      2. Standard of Proof
      Rewrite to “All findings and determinations of responsibility under this policy will be made using a preponderance of the evidence standard. With respect to the issue of whether the Responding Person committed sexual assault with the Reporting Person, this standard requires the determination of whether it is more likely than not that the Responding Person committed sexual assault.” No one engages in sexual assault.

      3. Investigation Findings and Report
      [NOTE: There should be a clause somewhere about raising any conflict of interest issues by either party at any time of the process given the requirements of who is involved in the panel or the investigation. Set this under a separate subheader] State that the investigator’s findings of prior assaults, near-assaults or sexual harassment or other disciplinary actions can be used in evidence in the investigation, even if no disciplinary action resulted in the past. Although this should be a matter of course for a skilled investigator, it’s worthwhile to state this. Again, Dr. Lisak’s investigative model should be followed here. This data should be included as part of the investigation as well as in sanctioning.

        (b) rewrite to “The Investigator’s determination as to whether the Responding Person sexually assaulted the Reporting Person.” People don’t commit sexual assault “with” each other.

      4. Sanctioning Decision
      The list of sanctions should be simplified: 1) suspension, including suspension until the Reporting Person graduates; and 2) expulsion. When should sexual assault warrant anything less?

      The policy will need to better clarify how to treat Student Organizations – they are not people, as the policy currently defines them – but the list of sanctions that pertains to them as organizations here is sound.

      Also, the Sanctioning Panels aren’t “finding” anything. The Investigator is doing the findings, the Panel is simply sanctioning. Rewrite to clarify this.

        (a) Specify that disciplinary history information used will include prior assaults or sexual harassment, even if no disciplinary action resulted in the past.

        (b) Change to “The impact of the Sexual Assault on the Reporting Person, which can be provided by the Reporting Person through a written and/or verbal impact statement to the Sanctioning Panel, should they chose to do so.

        (d) Rewrite to “The presence of additional bias as a motivation in the sexual assault, such as on account of race, color, religion, age, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, or disability.”

        (g)(1) Add another point that separation will occur in cases where the Reporting Person was unable to give consent due to incapacitation, unconsciousness, or any circumstance rendering the Reporting Person unaware.

        (g)(2) Add “minimum suspension until the Reporting Person graduates” to the second section.

      5. Notification of Investigation Outcome
      Along with the decision, the College must publish their reasoning for the both outcome and sanction per the new proposed Campus SaVE regulations. We recommend that this information be automatically made available with names redacted.
      Point out that Varsity Athletic Teams are Student Organizations but that sanctions against them alert a different set of authorities.

      6. Review of Decision

        (b) This section permits the Dean to ignore the reasoned findings of others, especially the investigator who made the factual findings. This is not acceptable.

        (d) This should be mandatory. This was also a recommendation from COSSA.

        (e) What is the argument for veto power by Dean of College? Shouldn’t the school should stand by its policies and implement them without any veto power from an administrator who may be swayed by inappropriate considerations? In addition, this could drag out the proceedings and become a problem for promptness under Clery and Title IX.

        (f) This also sets up a promptness problem.

      7. Include new section on Oversight and Independence.
      The Faculty Committee on Student Life (COSL) should have oversight on hiring investigators, reviewing performance, and access to Director of Judicial Affairs files. Describe how the independence of the investigator will be upheld and maintained.

      8. Include new section on Training
      Per Campus SaVE, investigations and sanctions must be conducted by officials who receive annual training on issues related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, and how to conduct an investigation and hearing process that protects the safety of victims and promote accountability.

V. Student and Student Organization Expectations and Rights

    A. Confidentiality; Respect for Privacy:
    This section is so unclear that it’s almost meaningless. As written, it will not comply with what is likely to come from OCR and the WHTF.

    C. Protection from Retaliation:
    Also include that retaliation protection includes by Per Campus SaVE: “An institution, or an officer, employee, or agent of an institution, may not retaliate, intimidate, threaten, coerce, or otherwise discriminate against any individual for exercising their rights or responsibilities under any provision in this section.”

    D. Coordination with Concurrent Legal Proceedings:
    The Dear Colleague Letter counsels providing a 10 day window for law enforcement investigation before a college takes up its own investigation, so that should be the tentative timeframe for this section. Without this, police may delay several months, which would lead to the College violating its Title IX obligations. Forthcoming updates will impact some of this section as well.

    E. Advisors and Support Persons; Attorneys:
    Replace “observer” with “support person.” Strike limitation of advisor of choice to Dartmouth members as this will be in direct violation of federal law (VAWA/Clery). And don’t predicate the Reporting Person’s ability to have a lawyer on whether or not the Responding Person has one. More of the forthcoming regulations will also impact this section.

    F. Deadlines:
    Clarify that extensions require a reason in writing both for the reason of the delay and the duration of the delay and must justify good cause. This will be required in the Campus SaVE Act regulations that will be implemented Fall 2014.

In addition to the above specific comments on the proposed policy, we appreciate the opportunity to share our thoughts to how the College must more comprehensively address sexual violence and harassment.

Nancy Cantalupo’s analysis of how federal regulations have unwittingly created disincentives for colleges to “bury their heads in the sand” around campus sexual violence2 frames an 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.”

To develop a clear, public understanding of how to change these attitudes and 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 and continue with an unflinching commitment to address the root causes, whatever they are.

We urge the administration to work closely with faculty, students, staff, alumni, law enforcement, WISE and DHMC to set up an independent commission composed of professionals in sexual violence prevention, public health, organizational behavior and change, harm reduction and education, gender, and harassment to create a methodologically rigorous and data driven analysis of the “who, what, why, where and how” of campus sexual violence and harassment. As noted in the same recommendation from the Committee On Student Safety and Accountability (COSSA), 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. It should be completed on an aggressive timeframe.

In the larger picture of improving victim support, it is essential to separate victim reporting from data collection about rates of victimization. This 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 reporting3, which is often done passively; to note, the current confusion about what a victim should do post-incident at Dartmouth. It would also help the community to understand if the policy change is meeting its goals.

To this point, we recommend that the College make a commitment to conduct an annual campus climate survey with all raw data made public. Not only will this separation as noted above improve victim support, it will help the administration and community to understand if this new policy is working and how it should be revised in the future, if at all. The survey should be designed by social scientists with experience measuring sexual violence and harassment and should be modeled after a survey that the University of New Hampshire’s Preventions Innovations group4 has used successfully since 1988. 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. In addition, as the University of New Hampshire has already discovered after repeated survey administrations, schools would be able to assess the effectiveness of institutional responses they adopted between surveys. This would encourage schools to innovate, experimenting with new responses, and creating knowledge for both other schools and the larger society published many articles related to their surveys and the programs and responses that their surveys have helped them assess, so the surveys could add to faculty production of research, which is most responsibility.”

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.

As always, we stand by ready to help.

Respectfully submitted,

Susy Struble, Dartmouth College Class of 1993
DartmouthChange

Aside from the articles cited above, we suggest these as further background on the reasoning behind our comments:

  • Banyard, Vicky. “Improving College Campus–Based Prevention of Violence Against Women: A Strategic Plan for Research Built on Multipronged Practices and Policies,” Trauma, Violence and Abuse, 2014.
  • Cantalupo, Nancy. “Decriminalizing Campus Institutional Responses to Peer Sexual Violence.” Journal of College and University Law, Vol. 38, p. 483, 2012.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.