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Proposed Sexual Assault Policy Q&As

This summary highlights key features of the proposed student disciplinary policy for sexual assault. For the complete proposal, please see here.

Why is the College considering adoption of a new policy?

  • Dartmouth is firmly committed to maintaining an educational environment in which sexual misconduct is not tolerated, and in which persons reporting sexual misconduct are provided support and avenues of redress. The proposed policy is designed to provide a more effective process for the prompt and equitable investigation of complaints of sexual assault against students and student organizations.

Who would the new policy apply to?

  • Undergraduate and graduate/professional students charged with sexual assault.
  • Student organizations charged with sexual assault.
  • Misconduct would include encouraging or covering up sexual assault.
  • As at present, a different process would continue to apply to sexual assault charges against faculty or staff members.

What conduct would the new policy apply to?

  • Sexual assault – defined in the proposed policy as unwanted or unwelcome touching of a sexual nature, including fondling, oral sex, anal or vaginal intercourse, digital penetration, penetration with an object, or other sexual activity that occurs without valid consent. The definition of sexual assault would include aiding, abetting or inciting others to commit sexual assault and retaliation against a person for making a good-faith report of sexual assault or for participating in good faith in a sexual assault investigation.
  • Charges of sexual harassment against students would continue to be handled under existing student disciplinary procedures.
  • No change of process for other types of student misconduct (e.g., academic dishonesty, fighting, etc.).

How would consent be defined?

  • Consent would mean clear and unambiguous agreement, expressed in mutually understandable words or actions, to engage in a particular activity. Consent would not be valid if obtained by physical force, coercion, or threat, or if the student charged with sexual assault reasonably should have known that the reporting person was incapable of giving consent because of incapacitation, unconsciousness, or any circumstance rendering the person unaware that sexual activity is occurring or is about to occur.

Who would be authorized to file a complaint under the new policy?

  • The "reporting person" (i.e., the person who was allegedly assaulted); or
  • The College administration.

How would the complaint be adjudicated?

  • A trained external investigator engaged by the College would conduct the investigation and determine responsibility.

Why is it proposed to use an external investigator?

  • Based on community input and the experience of other colleges and universities, the College believes fact-gathering and adjudication by a trained investigator, rather than an internal committee, would encourage reporting of sexual assault and expedite the process. In addition, a trained investigator is better equipped to deal with the issues requiring specialized expertise presented by sexual assault cases.

How would the sanction be determined?

  • If the responding person is found responsible, a panel of three College officials would determine the sanction. As presently conceived, the panel would consist of the Director of Judicial Affairs, the Title IX Coordinator, and a person designated by the Dean of the responding student's School (usually an associate dean responsible for student affairs).
  • In general, as at present, the range of possible sanctions would be wide. However, the sanctioning panel would be required to impose the sanction of separation from the College (i.e., expulsion) where:
    • the student found responsible for sexual assault engaged in sexual penetration, oral-genital contact, or oral-anal contact by use of force, threat, or purposeful incapacitation of the reporting person; or
    • the student found responsible for sexual assault engaged in sexual penetration, oral-genital contact, or oral-anal contact and was motivated by bias on account of race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or disability; or
    • the student found responsible for sexual assault had previously been found responsible for sexual assault.
  • Where the student found responsible intentionally engaged in sexual penetration, oral-genital contact, or oral-anal contact, but none of the aggravating factors described above was present, the sanctioning panel would be required to apply a strong presumption that the sanction should be expulsion.
  • For non-expulsion cases, the sanctioning panel would be required to give special consideration to the parties' enrollment patterns and activities to assure a non-threatening educational environment for the reporting person.

Would the decisions of the investigator or the sanctioning panel be subject to review?

  • Either party would be entitled to request review regarding (1) procedural error; (2) new evidence which was not available and which would likely have affected the outcome; or (3) the appropriateness of the sanction.
  • Under the current proposal, all reviews (including cases involving graduate/professional school cases) would be decided by the Dean of the College. The Dean of the College would be required to consult with the Dean of the responding student's School and, if the reporting person is a student, with the Dean of his or her School.

How would the new policy affect criminal investigations of sexual assault?

  • There would be no change. Persons would still have the right to report to law enforcement concerning the same behavior that could form the basis for a sexual assault report under College policy, and the College would continue to encourage reporting to law enforcement. As at present, the College might need to delay temporarily its gathering of evidence while law enforcement is in the process of investigating. Once law enforcement has completed its investigation, however, the College would resume and complete its investigation. Reporting persons would continue to have the right to proceed with a complaint under the College disciplinary policy while a criminal investigation or charge is pending.

How would the parties' procedural rights be affected by the new policy?

  • There would be no change. As with Dartmouth's current system, strong protections of a fair process for both parties would be assured. For example, both parties would continue to have the right to be accompanied by advisors and support persons to all meetings concerning the complaint, and both parties would continue to have the right to appeal.

Last Updated: 7/25/18