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A Community Message on Sexual Assault Prevention

Dear members of the Dartmouth community,

Sexual assault is a devastating event for those who experience it, and deeply distressing for their families and friends. In our conversations with members of our community, many want to know about the efforts we are making to prevent it on our campus. We are encouraged by their determination to combat sexual violence and its consequences. As leaders and educators here at Dartmouth, we too care deeply about this issue and are committed to finding effective ways to make lasting and positive change.

This is a high priority for us. We look forward to working with the community, including the Committee on Student Safety and Accountability (COSSA), to identify what more we can do to raise community consciousness and ensure a Dartmouth where sexual assault is simply not acceptable.

In talking to many people this fall, we have realized that most are unaware of the numerous new and strengthened initiatives we are supporting to reduce incidents of sexual assault, hold accountable those found responsible, and offer as much support and care as we can to survivors. Some of our efforts are summarized below. We understand that there is more to be done, but we want everyone to know that we are dealing with these issues directly and will continue to work with you on this critical issue.

  • Prevention: Bystander intervention is emerging as one of the most effective means of reducing sexual assault on college campuses. Dartmouth has partnered with Jennifer Sayre '93, PhD, a national expert on sexual assault prevention, to develop the Dartmouth Bystander Initiative. Through this initiative, we began training students this term to recognize potentially risky situations and intervene to prevent sexual assault from occurring. We are on track to have more than 250 students trained by the end of this month, including some of our most influential student leaders.
  • Education: In 2010, we added a mandatory program to student orientation designed to educate students about Dartmouth's policy prohibiting sexual misconduct, provide clarity on what constitutes consent, and underscore individual responsibility and accountability. Dartmouth's Health Promotions Office facilitates many other educational programs aimed at creating a climate of reporting.
  • Increased Accountability: We have implemented several recommendations that stemmed from a review of the student judicial process as it relates to cases ofsexual assault. The review was completed by students, faculty, and staff as members of the Committee on Standards-Sexual Assault Review (COS-SAR). Our reforms focus on increased accountability and include requiring witnesses to an alleged sexual misconduct to testify, as well as strengthening the consequences for students found to have engaged in sexual misconduct. A full report on the recommendations and their implementation can be found here:
  • Staffing: Several weeks ago, we assigned a new Special Investigator position in Campus Safety and Security devoted solely to investigations of reported sexual misconduct to ensure they are conducted in a fair, effective, and timely manner. Last year, we also added a second Sexual Assault Awareness Program Coordinator in order to increase the time and resources devoted to prevention, education, and support. These positions have also helped to centralize our efforts to combat sexual assault. The professionals in these positions are committed to working with students, staff, and faculty across campus.
  • Training: As a result of these collaborative efforts, we have well-trained staff and faculty who can serve as "first responders" for victims of sexual assault. Our commitment to training also extends to those who investigate complaints of sexual assault and students who serve in peer support roles.

The Board of Trustees strongly supports our actions on this front. When they met this past weekend, the Trustees reiterated their uncompromising rejection of any form of sexual violence and reaffirmed their commitment to provide the necessary resources to reduce these acts on campus and create a more secure environment for all students.

Along with the entire Board of Trustees, we are gratified that so much work is already under way, while recognizing that we must continue to make progress. We commend the Dartmouth peer groups--including the Student Presidential Committeeon Sexual Assault, Sexperts, Sexual Assault Peer Advisors, and Mentors Against Violence--for their continued commitment to creating a culture of sexual respect and safety. Students cannot solve the problem of sexual assault alone, but with engagement and collaboration we can work together to ensure that the Principle of Community rings true throughout our campus.


Carol L. Folt

Charlotte H. Johnson
Dean of the College

Last Updated: 9/9/15