FAQ

General Questions

Q: What is the definition of sexual assault? 

Q: What are the chances of a student being sexually assaulted at Dartmouth? 

Q: Are men sexually assaulted? 

Q: Is there any group that is particularly vulnerable to these attacks?

Q: How many sexual assaults occur at Dartmouth annually?

Q: How many of these assaults will be adjudicated by the Committee on Standards (COS), the College’s disciplinary committee?

Q: What are the effects of sexual assault upon victims?

Q: Nobody intentionally sets out to assault women on campus during the weekends. Aren’t there are lots of “grey areas” around what are labeled sexual assaults?

Q: What is a woman, sober or otherwise, doing in the basement of a fraternity at 2 AM anyway? Doesn’t this lack of common sense and self-esteem mean she is at least partially responsible for what happens to her?

Q: What about the rights of accused students?

 

Questions about Reporting

Q: Why are so few sexual assaults reported to authorities?

Q: What about the problem of false reporting? Isn’t it true that in many sexual assault cases it’s simply a matter of a woman waking up the next morning and regretting what she did the night before?

Q: What are the Clery Report numbers?

Q: Dartmouth’s Clery Report numbers are high compared to other peer institutions. Isn’t this a sign, as the administration claims, that the system is working because more Dartmouth women are reporting?

Q: How does reporting at Dartmouth work?

 

Questions about Dartmouth’s Culture

Q: What role does alcohol consumption play in sexual assault?

Q: Are there “assault-facilitating” drugs on the Dartmouth campus?

Q: I was a Dartmouth student and never saw any problems around sexual assault on campus. You are not describing my experience or those of my friends. How can this be?

Q: What does the research say concerning the role of the Greek system in campus sexual assaults?

Q: What’s the anecdotal evidence concerning the role of the Greek system campus sexual assaults?

Q: I was/am a member of the Greek system at Dartmouth, and my experiences in that group have been fantastic. My best friends are my fraternity brothers/sorority sisters. There was no discrimination in our structure, and I never witnessed any sexual assaults. How can you say the Greek system is the problematic part of Dartmouth’s culture?

Q: Why is there such strong participation in the Greek system if so many problems stem from it?

Q: What changes with the Greek system do you think are necessary?

 

Questions about DartmouthChange

Q: Are you working with the College administration?

Q: What’s the role of alumni in all of this?

Q: How do you plan to be successful?

Q: How can an outside, independent organization of alumni, faculty, staff and community members provide more help than the committees Dartmouth already has?

Q: It seems to me that Dartmouth’s administration already puts a lot of resources to the issue of sexual assault. Do we really need more?

Q: This is an issue that can’t be addressed through administrative policy or Presidential fiat. The problem is with the students. Doesn’t that mean that the solutions must come from them?

Q: How does Dartmouth stack up against our peers when it comes to sexual assault prevention programs?

Q: Isn’t it a violation of Federal privacy laws to release information on alleged assaults or about the results of disciplinary hearings by the Committee on Standards (COS)? (per your suggestion in the Recommendations section)

 

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Q: What’s the definition of sexual assault?

This term is often used as an umbrella legal term to describe a range of unwanted sexual offenses, including rape. New Hampshire law defines three categories of sexual assault and related offenses. In all cases, it is a crime to have sexual contact with a person “when the actor, without prior knowledge or consent of the victim, administers or has knowledge of another person administering to the victim any intoxicating substance which mentally incapacitates the victim or when at the time of the assault the victim indicates by speech or conduct that consent is not freely given to performance of the sexual act.”^

Source: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~deancoll/student-handbook/smisconduct.html

Q: What are the chances of a student being sexually assaulted at Dartmouth?

Research indicates that 1 in 4 female students and 1 in 33 males will be a victim of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault during their four years at Dartmouth. 85% of victims report being assaulted by someone they knew, usually a fellow student. The majority of college women who reported a sexual assault experienced the incident during their freshman or sophomore years. Anecdotal evidence and some research suggest that the first 15 weeks of school are the most dangerous for women.^

Sources: Fisher, B.S., F.T. Cullen, and M.G. Turner. Sexual Victimization of College Women. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice. 2000; Krebs, C, Lindquist, C., Warner, T., Fisher, B, Martin, S.  December, (2007). The Campus Sexual Assault Study. National Institute of Justice; and Kimble, Matthew, PhD; Neascsiu, Andrada D., BA; Flack Jr., William F., PhD., Horner, Jessica, BA. “Risk of Unwanted Sex for College Women: Evidence for a Red Zone.” Journal of American College Health, Vol. 57, No 3, Dec 2008.

Q: Are men sexually assaulted? 

Research indicates that 1 in 33 males will be a victim of rape or attempted rape during their lifetime. The trauma of the human and institutional betrayals felt by male victims run deep, as evidenced by a recent suicide of a male Amherst student, Thomas Francis Malone III (Trey), who was sexually assaulted by another student on campus.

Q: Is there any group that is particularly vulnerable to these attacks?

First and second year women appear to be at greater risk of being victims of sexual assault than upperclassmen. A recent study employing a convenience sample of university women found that 84% of the women who reported sexually coercive experiences experienced the incident during their first four semesters on campus.^

Source: Gross, A.M., A. Winslett, M. Roberts, and C.L. Gohm. (2006). “An Examination of Sexual Violence Against College Women,” Violence Against Women. 12(3): 288-300.

Q: How many sexual assaults occur at Dartmouth annually?

According to Dartmouth’s own Sexual Assault Awareness Program and based on FBI and Department of Education data, we can conservatively estimate that 125 Dartmouth women will be the victims of sexual assault or an attempted assault in the 2012-2013 academic year. Roughly 95% of these crimes will go unreported.^

Q: How many of these assaults will be adjudicated by the Committee on Standards (COS), the College disciplinary committee?

Between the start of summer term 2000 and the end of spring term 2010 (ten academic years), there were 31 adjudicated cases of sexual abuse. There were an estimated 1,250 assaults or attempted assaults on campus during this same period. That is an estimated adjudication rate of 2.5%.

Of these 31 cases, eleven (35%) resulted in a finding of “not responsible” for the alleged perpetrator, three of which were deemed so because of “insufficient evidence.” Four students resigned from the College prior to a hearing.

The cases where students were found responsible are as follows: in two cases, students were permanently separated from the College for sexual abuse that included repeated instances of sexual abuse in the same evening, multiple offenses, or a student’s disregard for obvious signs that the intercourse or contact was not consensual; eleven cases resulted in suspension from one to eight terms for non-consensual penetration in a case in which a reasonable person would have understood that he/she did not have consent for the act, and in cases that a reasonable person would have known that the victim was incapacitated from drugs or alcohol (a class “A” felony in New Hampshire punishable by up to 15 years in prison). Lesser terms of suspension were imposed when the incident involved touching intimate parts of another student (a class “B” felony punishable by up to 7 years in prison or a Class “A” misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison.) 

In three cases students were placed on probation for the remainder of their time at Dartmouth. In one case a student was found to have engaged in harassing behavior with a significant sexual element.  In another case a student engaged in intimate sexual touching that did not include explicit consent but did include some consensual behavior.  The other case involved a student who committed an inappropriate prank that involved touching the genitals of a former sexual partner.^

Source: Dartmouth College Committee on Standards

Q: What are the effects of sexual assault upon victims?

Sexual assault impacts every victim differently. However, it is highly correlated with depression, relationship problems, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, substance abuse (binge drinking in particular), suicide, and other psychological and emotional problems. One study indicated that rape victims are 13 times more likely than the general population to commit suicide. The impact of a sexual assault upon the victim often depends upon the level of support and assistance s/he receives in the aftermath of the crime. Dartmouth women and men routinely drop courses and after-class activities, change majors, alter social routines, modify living situations and even leave the College to avoid coming into contact with their assailants.

Recent research suggests that the aftereffects of a sexual assault — dissociation, anxiety, and more — that occurs within a trusted institution, such as a college campus or military base, are compounded by a profound feeling of betrayal by a trusted institution.

The damage does not stop with the victim. Sexual assault directly impacts the victim’s family and friends, in ways both obvious and sometimes unseen. The devastation travels far through space and time. Its ripples never stop, and although their impact might diminish, they ultimately reach us all.^

Source: http://www.helpandhealing.org/mythsfacts.htm; Freyd, Jennifer J. and Smith, Carly Parnitzke, “Dangerous Safe Havens: Institutional Betrayal Exacerbates Sexual Trauma.” Journal of Traumatic Stress. Volume 26, Issue 1. pp. 119–124, February 2013.

 

Q: Nobody intentionally sets out to assault women on campus during the weekends. Aren’t there are lots of “grey areas” around what are labeled sexual assaults?

There are no “grey areas.” The New Hampshire statutes are very clear about what constitutes criminal sexual behavior.

Also, these assaults are not “accidents” nor caused by “circumstances” but in fact are premeditated. Perpetrators prowl for victims where alcohol is being consumed and target naïve populations. 60%-70% of rapists on college campuses are serial offenders and they are responsible for 91% of the attacks. 85% of on-campus offenses are “acquaintance” or “non-stranger” assaults.

The majority are serial rapists. Repeat predators account for 9 out of every 10 rapes. On average, they will commit approximately 6 rapes while in college.^

Source: Sexual Predators on Campus:Research Studies and Statistics; David Lisak, PhD.

Q: What is a woman, sober or otherwise, doing in the basement of a fraternity at 2 AM anyway? Doesn’t this lack of common sense and self-esteem mean she is at least partially responsible for what happens to her?

Attire, demeanor, level of alcohol consumption, and — in cases of “acquaintance rape”– any prior sexual history with the perpetrator may not be used to justify an assailant’s behavior. A victim of sexual assault is never responsible under any circumstances for the crime that is committed against them.^

Q: What about the rights of accused students?

Federal statutes regarding privacy and due process fully protect students accused of sexual assault and are referred to by the Committee on Standards. The College uses the same protocols as they use to deal with students accused of racial and other forms of harassment and discrimination. Currently, potential punishments range from probation to separation from the College.^

For more complete information about COS proceedings go to: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~deancoll/student-handbook/standards.html

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT REPORTING

Q: Why are so few sexual assaults reported to authorities? 

Historically, rape victims are routinely discounted, disbelieved and shunned. They are also routinely subjected to vicious personal attacks and intense pressure from peers to not report. Victims may believe they are somehow responsible for the attack and are often embarrassed, frightened and/or ashamed. Victims might also believe that reporting will negatively affect their future careers. Reporting may lead to having to testify publicly about intimate personal behavior.

Women are more likely to report sexual assault if their assailant is a stranger than if the assailant is an acquaintance or fellow student, and they are more likely to report completed rape than attempted rape. Only 27% of the women whose sexual assaults met the legal definition of rape thought of themselves as rape victims.

Lastly, anecdotal evidence points to distrust of the College’s adjudication system. The perception on campus is that those found guilty of academic violations face more consequences than those found guilty of sexual assault, and it’s well known how emotionally difficult the process is for victims with the added insult of a poor adjudication rate. At the Ivies and other prestigious colleges where many perpetrators are renowned athletes, have unlimited financial and legal resources, intimidating friends, parents and family members, powerful connections and ties to the institution’s upper level administration, and a horrific judicial track recording for finding perpetrators responsible at their college, the likelihood of a victim coming forward and using the judicial/legal system in an acquaintance assault is extremely rare.^

Sources:  http://www.dartmouth.edu/sexualabuse/educated/factsmyths.htmlSexual Predators on Campus: Research Studies and Statistics; David Lisak, PhD; and SCPSA’s “Findings from Key Informant Environmental Essay,” Winter 2013.

 

Q: What about the problem of false reporting? Isn’t it true that in many sexual assault cases it’s simply a matter of a woman waking up the next morning and regretting what she did the night before?

No. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, less than 2% of sexual assault reports are false. This is the equivalent of the false reporting rate for all other major crimes — in other words, a person is no more likely to lie about sexual assault than to lie about her/his car being stolen.^

Source: http://www.helpandhealing.org/mythsfacts.htm

Q: What are the Clery Report numbers?

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act or Clery Act requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to keep and disclose information about crime on or near their respective campuses. Dartmouth publishes its Clery numbers annually, usually in the fall. For more information on Dartmouth’s specific numbers, visit our Data section. You can read more there about how these numbers are imperfect measurements of what’s actually happening on campus.

In order to be included in the Clery numbers, the sexual assault complaint must include: campus location; date of assault; date of first report of the assault to authorities; and type of incident. Incidents appear in the year they were reported, not necessarily when the assault actually occurred. It is not uncommon for victims to wait months or even years before reporting to authorities.

Although Dartmouth has by far the smallest student population of the Ivies, the College regularly ranks at or near the top in terms of the number of reported assaults. Partially as a result of this, the website American School Search gives Dartmouth an “F” on safety and states “Dartmouth College is a very dangerous place to be enrolled.”^

Q: Dartmouth’s Clery Report numbers are high compared to other peer institutions. Isn’t this a sign, as the administration claims, that the system is working because more Dartmouth women are reporting?

Because so few assaults are reported and even fewer qualify for listing in the Clery report, it is impossible to determine. We’d like to believe the claim is is true, but there is no research that proves that higher Clery numbers indicate more reporting (and thus a more supportive environment for victims) as opposed to more assaults. Unfortunately, without a more standardized, objective way of measuring the level of sexual assault on campus as well as a standardized, objective way of measuring various campuses’ level of “supportive environment for reporting,” it’s difficult to know if higher Clery Report numbers correlate with anything. This is another reason we call for a better benchmarking of sexual assaults on Dartmouth’s campus in our Recommendations.^

Q: How does reporting at Dartmouth work?

For now, we point you to the section on sexual abuse on Dartmouth’s web site: http://www.dartmouth.edu/sexualabuse We hope to be better able to explain the system with a diagram, which the SPCSA has been working on. We will post that, along with some commentary, as soon as a final version is available.^

 

 

Questions about Dartmouth’s Culture

Q: What role does alcohol consumption play in sexual assault?

Although alcohol is involved in virtually 100% of sexual assault cases at Dartmouth, there is no causal connection between alcohol abuse and sexual assault:

“A common misunderstanding is that if people commit sexual assaults only when drunk, then (a) the drinking must have caused the assault and (b) sobriety and alcohol counseling are adequate to prevent future assaults. These erroneous conclusions confuse correlation and causation.” ^

Alcohol is used by perpetrators as a weapon to attack, and then discredit, their victims.

Source: Alcohol and Sexual Assault: The Connection by Scott Hampton, Psy.D.

Q: Are there “assault-facilitating” drugs on the Dartmouth campus?

Yes. Alcohol is by far the number one “assault-facilitating” or “rape” drug on campus.

There have been recent documented instances of other “assault-facilitating” drugs being used on campus. Other drugs that are used in sexual assaults are gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), and ketamine. These drugs inhibit a person’s ability to resist sexual assault.

Gamma-hydroxybutyrate

GHB is a clear, odorless liquid that looks like water and so can be added to a beverage without the person knowing it. GHB can be obtained over the Internet.

At low doses, the drug relaxes the person. The person feels intoxicated, has more energy, feels happy, and is talkative. Other effects include:

  • Feeling affectionate and playful.
  • Mild loss of inhibition.
  • Increased sensuality.
  • Enhanced sexual feelings.

This drug does not stay in a person’s system very long and is not easily detected with drug screening tests (toxicology tests).

Rohypnol

Rohypnol, a trade name for flunitrazepam, is a central nervous system depressant. It is similar to Valium but about 10 times more potent. It is a tasteless, odorless tablet that can be crushed dissolved in liquid and slipped into a person’s drink without it being detected. One small tablet can produce effects for 8 to 12 hours. Rohypnol can produce a form of amnesia so that the person may not remember what happened while under the influence of the drug. The drug may lead to death when mixed with alcohol or other depressant drugs. This drug can be tested for up to 60 hours after ingestion, but it is still difficult to detect.

Ketamine 

Ketamine is an anesthetic that is used primarily by veterinarians and by doctors who perform surgery on young children.

At low doses, ketamine causes a tingling sensation, a loss of time perception often described as “eternity,” and a perceived ability to determine causal connections between things. At high doses, it distorts the person’s perception of his or her body and the surroundings. The person may fall into a dreamlike state (catatonia) in which he or she has a flat facial appearance, an open mouth, a fixed stare with wide pupils, and a rigid posture.^

Sources: http://cancer.dartmouth.edu/pf/health_encyclopedia/uq2448; “Sexual Violence on Campus” edited by Allen J. Ottens and Kathy Hotelling, and “Royhpnol Fact Sheet,” http://www.bu.edu/police/prevention/rohypnol_fact_sheet.htm.

Q: I was a Dartmouth student and never saw any problems around sexual assault on campus. You are not describing my experience or those of my friends. How can this be?

42% of college women who are raped tell NO ONE about their assault. The percentage of men who are assaulted and who do not tell anyone is certainly significantly higher. 95% of assaults go unreported to campus authorities or to the Hanover police. Of those that are reported, few ever reach the campus judiciary committee and even fewer reach the criminal courts.

Research confirms that although you may not have been assaulted yourself, one of your friends likely has been and has chosen not to tell you.^

Source: http://www.helpandhealing.org/mythsfacts.htm

Q: What does the research say concerning the role of the Greek system in campus sexual assaults?

Research tells us that in situations where “group-think mentality” is the norm, individuals commit acts they would not normally consider. Fraternity men have been identified as being more likely to perpetrate sexual assault or sexual aggression than non-fraternity men. Excessive alcohol distribution and consumption is also associated with fraternities, particularly at Dartmouth. This helps create an environment that facilitates sexual assault (note this does not equal causation).

Sorority membership itself has been identified in recent research as a risk factor for sexual assault, including being a victim of alcohol or drug coercion. This finding is probably due to the pattern of sorority women being more likely to drink and to associate with fraternity men, who have been identified as being more likely to perpetrate sexual assault or sexual aggression than non-fraternity men. Not surprisingly, previous research has documented that students who are members of Greek organizations drink more frequently and heavily than non-members.

75-80% of Dartmouth students are members of the Greek system.

We do not have any hard data about the role of the Greek system in perpetrating sexual assault at Dartmouth because, although we believe that kind of data is being collected by the College, it is not shared. See the fifth item in Recommendations.^

Sources: Kilmer et al., 1999; Cashin, Presley, & Meilman, 1988) (Campus Sexual Assault Study, Department of Justice);  Sexual Violence on Campus”edited by Allen J. Ottens and Kathy Hotelling; Tyler, K.A., D.R. Hoyt and L.B. Whitbeck. (1998). Coercive Sexual Strategies,” Violence and Victims,13(1) 47-61;  Lackie, L. and A.F. deMan. (1997). “Correlates of Sexual Aggression Among Male University Students,” Sex Roles, 37, 451-457;  Mohler-Kuo, M., G. Dowdall, M. Koss, and H. Wechsler. “Correlates of Rape While Intoxicated in a National Sample of College Women.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol. 65. (2004): 37-45;  (From the Sexual Victimization of College Women, National Institute of Justice)(Tyler, Hoyt, & Whitbeck, 1998; Mohler-Kuo et al., 2004; Copenhaver & Grauerholz, 1991; Kalof, 1993); (Tyler, Hoyt, & Whitbeck, 1998); (Tyler, Hoyt, & Whitbeck, 1998; Lackie & deMan, 1997).

Q: What’s the anecdotal evidence concerning the role of the Greek system in campus sexual assaults?

Based on strong anecdotal evidence and mathematical probability, it seems clear that most of the sexual assaults at Dartmouth stem from the Greek system. With about 75-80% of the undergraduate student population (except freshmen) members of the Greek system and the prevalence of free alcohol at Greek parties, it is impossible to argue otherwise.^

Q: I was/am a member of the Greek system at Dartmouth, and my experiences in that group have been fantastic. My best friends are my fraternity brothers/sorority sisters. There was no discrimination in our structure, and I never witnessed any sexual assaults. How can you say the Greek system is the problematic part of Dartmouth’s culture? 

See answers to some of the questions above.

It’s clear that after 40 years – ten “generations” of students and six presidents and their administrations – sufficient change has still not come from within. We are not so foolish as to suggest that we have the solution, which is why we are insisting an independent commission be chartered. See the third item in Recommendations.^

Q: Why is there such strong participation in the Greek system if so many problems stem from it? 

There are many positives attributes of the Greek system. Along with its problems, it can also foster strong life-long relationships, a sense of greater purpose and community, and a healthy and fun social network.

However, there are few social alternatives for students at Dartmouth and even fewer that are unsupervised and permit underage drinking like the Greek system does. Nothing else can compete. Students will say that the great attraction of fraternities is the availability of alcohol. Peer pressure is also a factor. Hooking Up by Kathleen Bogle is an excellent resource for understanding the dynamics of the current campus social culture.^

Q: What changes with the Greek system do you think are necessary? 

Research, coupled with the advice of experts in the field and many students on campus, makes it clear that Dartmouth cannot solve this problem by maintaining the status quo. Many of our peer schools have instituted rules requiring all Greek houses to become co-ed and non-exclusive; others have “de-recognized” or done away with fraternities and sororities entirely. Only an open, honest and transparent discussion and re-evaluation of the Greek system at Dartmouth can lead to positive change. We suggest that this conversation be led by an independent commission with full openness and transparency. Again, see the third item in Recommendations.^

 

Questions About DartmouthChange

Q: Are you working with the College administration?

Yes. We have met with the President’s Office, The Dean of the College, a few Trustees, and many other senior administrators. After months of research and listening to students and others, we gave a proposal to the Dean of the College and offered to find funding for the items that required financing (see our Proposal at Recommendations). Our offer was ignored.

The College administration faces a potential conflict of interest when dealing with victims and perpetrators of sexual assault. Research shows that there is often a discrepancy between an administration’s rhetoric about sexual assault prevention and its actions.

As one Dartmouth senior administrator recently remarked, when dealing with “controversial topics” like sexual assault and the Greek system, it is best to “take baby steps” towards a solution lest the College’s various constituencies be offended. This ill-conceived philosophy is reflected in the administration’s lack of effective action to date, particularly around prevention.

While arguing that any change in campus culture can only come from the students, the College leadership insists they do not have the authority to intervene in these issues and regularly accuses the media of distorting the truth about the problems at the College. In a recent Valley News article, a spokesman for the administration stated that if we just look at the numbers of reported assaults “in a broader context,” we would see that “ours is an incredibly safe and secure campus.”

To claim that students alone can engineer the dramatic social changes necessary to effectively address these issues runs counter to the policy of the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education. We agree with the OCR’s position that meaningful change can only occur by educating and involving all members of the campus community. It is in this spirit that we have offered the administration our energy, resources and expertise. Our specific proposals for change are listed under Recommendations.^

Source: Sexual Assault on Campus, Department of Justice; Sexual Violence on Campus,” edited by Allen J. Ottens and Kathy Hotelling

Q: What’s the role of alumni in all of this?

Again, we agree with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights that meaningful change can only occur by educating and involving all members of the campus community. This includes alumni. It also includes faculty, staff, students, parents and Hanover community members.

Alumni are essential to changing the situation on Dartmouth’s campus. We are enormously powerful through our voices and our donations, or lack thereof. We are influential in our roles as members of and alumni advisors to Greek houses, sports teams, and other campus organizations. We are capable of helping in creative and direct ways, including funding and our communications with the College administration. We are models of behavior ourselves when we visit campus. We are parents and grandparents (and hope-to-be parents of 20xx graduates). We are friends of victims and bystanders.

We are bystanders ourselves if we do nothing.^

Q: How do you plan to be successful?

Our method is to criticize and advocate for change where justified, applaud and support where merited, and bring help and resources where needed. We will continue to urge the College to act with greater inclusion, transparency and a focus on unflinching honesty and creating a long-term strategy in addressing sexual assault on campus. We will adhere to these principles in our own work.

We want to amplify the features that make Dartmouth exemplary, beloved and unique and to use those characteristics – the Dartmouth community’s undying sense of camaraderie, its intelligence, honesty and spirit – to end sexual violence by creating a culture of respect, responsibility and consequences for behaviors and actions.

Our goal is no sexual assaults at Dartmouth College. We will reach this goal by listening, refining our strategy and tactics through an open collaboration with the Dartmouth community, and thinking long-term and creatively.^

Q: How can an outside, independent organization of alumni, faculty, staff and community members provide more help than the committees Dartmouth already has?

As an independent committee, we have only one constituency: the students of Dartmouth College; and one concern: their health and safety. There is no conflict of interest, no gap between our rhetoric and our commitment to eliminate sexual assault from the Dartmouth campus.

A 2010 investigative series by NPR and Center for Public Integrity (“Seeking Justice for Campus Rapes”) found that “despite federal laws created to protect students, colleges and universities have failed to protect women from this epidemic of sexual assault.” We believe our independence, inclusivity and singular focus can help fix that failure. ^

Q: It seems to me that Dartmouth’s administration already puts a lot of resources to the issue of sexual assault. Do we really need more?

Until the number of sexual assaults at Dartmouth is zero, more can and must be done. There must be no more important priority for Dartmouth than the health and safety of all students.^

Q: This is an issue that can’t be addressed through administrative policy or Presidential fiat. The problem is with the students. Doesn’t that mean that the solutions must come from them?

The notion that it is solely the students’ responsibility to change the campus culture runs counter to both common sense and recommendations by experts in the field. A recent letter from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights clearly states that sexual assault can only be diminished if the entire campus community is involved:

“Compliance with Title IX, such as…education and training programs…can help ensure that all students and employees recognize the nature of sexual harassment and violence and to understand that the school will not tolerate such conduct. Training for administrators, teachers, staff, and students also can help ensure that they understand what types of conduct constitute sexual harassment or violence, can identify warning signals that may need attention, and know how to respond.”^

Q: How does Dartmouth stack up against our peers when it comes to sexual assault prevention programs?

Dartmouth has dedicated significant resources to programs designed to counsel and support victims of sexual assault. In general, program staff are fantastic and the programs themselves are good, although many refinements still need to be made.

However, there is tremendous opportunity for improvement around prevention, which is obviously the most important aspect. Dartmouth should be the national leader in this area. The following are some prevention measures in place at peer institutions or recommended by experts in the field that are not currently a part of the College’s program:

  • Mandatory sexual assault awareness training for all Dartmouth students throughout their four years in Hanover.
  • Ongoing, real-time safety and security updates for students, faculty, staff, parents and alumni that include specific details.
  • Stiffer penalties for perpetrators and facilitators of sexual assault.
  • A ban on all drinking games on campus.
  • A President and senior administration that speaks out forcefully and regularly about sexual assault and names it the number one priority for the College.
  • Trustee participation in campus committees examining sexual assault and student safety.
  • “Impact statements” provided by victims and to be considered by the COS when determining sanctions.
  • Outreach to local community partners for support.
  • Independent experts appointed to study the social dynamic at Dartmouth that contributes to the epidemic of sexual assaults.^

Q: Isn’t it a violation of Federal privacy laws to release information on alleged assaults or about the results of disciplinary hearings by the Committee on Standards (COS)? (per your suggestion in the Recommendations section)

Privacy laws require that in assault cases heard by the COS, the identities of the victim and perpetrator are not revealed. However, according to a letter from the Civil Rights office of the Department of Education dated April 4, 2011, the outcome of a sexual assault case heard by the COS can be released to the general public without violating a perpetrator’s or victim’s right to privacy:

“Further, when the conduct involves a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense, FERPA permits a postsecondary institution to disclose to the alleged victim the final results of a disciplinary proceeding against the alleged perpetrator, regardless of whether the institution concluded that a violation was committed.  Additionally, a postsecondary institution may disclose to anyone—not just the alleged victim—the final results of a disciplinary proceeding if it determines that the student is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense, and, with respect to the allegation made, the student has committed a violation of the institution’s rules or policies.”^