HANOVER, N.H. (AP) — Dartmouth College administrators have proposed tougher punishment for students found responsible of sexual assault, including mandatory expulsion in certain cases.
Under the proposed policy changes, a trained external expert would investigate allegations and determine responsibility for sexual assault, and a single disciplinary system would apply to undergraduates, graduate students and organizations.
Sanctions also would be strengthened: Students would be automatically expelled if found responsible for assaults involving penetration accomplished by force, threat or purposeful incapacitation or in the case of an assault involving penetration and motivated by bias. The punishment also would be mandatory expulsion the second time a student is found responsible for any sexual assault. The college would lean toward expulsion in cases involving penetration.
“We believe a new system along the lines proposed would encourage reporting, expedite the disciplinary process, enhance consistency in sanctioning, and represent a stronger deterrent to sexual assault. We encourage your participation in the process of shaping this policy,” college President Phil Hanlon and Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson said in a joint statement posted online Friday.
The college says 38 undergraduates were charged with sexual misconduct violations from 2002 through the spring of 2013, including 12 who were suspended and three who were expelled. In 13 cases, there wasn’t enough evidence to find the students responsible, and four left the college before the cases were settled.
The college also is required to report assault statistics to the federal government. The most recent report, submitted in October, covered 2012. That year, the college reported 24 sexual assaults, compared to 15 in 2011, 22 in 2010 and 10 in 2009.
Students and others have until April 14 to submit comments and suggestions about the proposal. The goal is to implement the new policy by the start of the summer term.
In addition to the proposed policy changes, the college is opening a new center for the prevention of sexual assault and violence. The office will serve as the hub for a new initiative that trains students to get involved by helping their peers and defusing threatening situations.
It will be known as the Center for Community Action and Prevention and will be directed by Amanda Childress, who has been the college’s sexual assault awareness program coordinator for the past two years.
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