- Associated Press - Thursday, May 1, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Dartmouth College will be stronger and safer after the Education Department finishes investigating how the Ivy League school handles sexual harassment and assault complaints, a college spokesman said Thursday.

In an unprecedented step, the Education Department released the names Thursday of the 55 colleges and universities facing investigations under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits gender discrimination at schools that receive federal funds and regulates how they handle sexual violence. The agency previously would confirm such investigations when asked, but students and others were often unaware of them.

That wasn’t the case at Dartmouth, where the investigation began last May and was initiated by the department as a compliance review rather than a response to specific complaint. The investigation has been publicized in numerous news articles, and students, faculty and alumni were encouraged to speak with investigators when they visited campus in late January. The department can withhold federal funding from schools that don’t comply with the law, but it so far has opted to negotiate voluntary resolutions instead.

Dartmouth spokesman Justin Anderson said Thursday the college has been in close and regular contact with the Department of Education to provide officials with requested information.

“We are hopeful at the end of this there will be a resolution that will strengthen our internal processes and result in a safer community,” he said. “There’s always something we can learn and ways to get better.”

Two weeks ago, Dartmouth president Philip Hanlon called sexual assault one of three critical issues - along with high-risk drinking and lack of inclusion - that are compromising the school’s core mission. Dartmouth received nationwide attention several years ago for allegations of fraternity hazing, and students recently protested at Hanlon’s office with a long list of demands aimed at creating a more inclusive, diverse campus.

“Dartmouth’s promise is being hijacked by extreme behavior, masked by its perpetrators as acceptable fun,” said Hanlon, who highlighted efforts already underway to address those problems and announced the formation of a steering committee to make further recommendations.

The college reported 24 sexual assaults in 2012, compared with 15 in 2011, 22 in 2010 and 10 in 2009. During a campus discussion last week, administrators emphasized that the college has been working on multiple fronts to prevent sexual assault, encourage reporting and hold perpetrators accountable, including a recent proposal to overhaul its system of investigating assaults. The proposed policy calls for having a trained external expert investigate sexual assault allegations and determine responsibility and would create tougher punishments for those found responsible.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More

Click to Hide