Aug 15, 2013 09:40 AM EDT
Yale Student Group Pressures Administration to Toughen Penalties Against Sexual Misconduct Perpetrators
A group of female students at Yale have organized to demand tougher punishment on sexual assault perpetrators and the school's president is listening, the Huffington Post reported.
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Yale president Peter Salovey issued an open letter to the school's community addressing the recent semi-annual report of sexual misconduct complaints.
The group, Students Against Sexual Violence at Yale, formed in response to the semi-annual report and did not seem too happy with Salovey's letter. Soon after the report, they issued Salovey with a letter, signed by 15 female students, expressing their concerns.
"Do we have to press Yale to make a glossary of terms of what actually defines sexual assault and sexual misconduct?" Yale junior Winnie Wang said. "The Yale administration just sort of tiptoes around that term [sexual assault] because they feel like it carries too much negative stigma and bad PR."
According to Emma Goldberg, one of the students, Salovey reached out to the group Wednesday and asked to arrange a personal sit-down meeting. The meeting will address Students Against Sexual Violence at Yale's concerns regarding punishment of those guilty of sexual assault.
"Expulsion must be the preferred sanction, because it is imperative that Yale does all it can to remove sexual assailants from its campus," Goldberg, a sophomore, said.
Goldberg said she was pleased with the president's quick response, but she did not think he took sexual assault seriously enough.
"Sexual misconduct is reprehensible human behavior," Salovey wrote in his letter. "But my academic training tells me that human behaviors can be modified, and that institutional cultures can change for the better. And my professional experience at Yale has shown me that this university is committed to being a community that is respectful and safe for all."
The student group also took issue with the use of the term "nonconsensual sex," saying it was way to avoid saying things like "rape" and "assault."
At the beginning of the month, Yale announced it would not expel students found guilty of "nonconsensual sex." Those perpetrators also only received a written reprimand as their harshest punishment.
"It's so, so frustrating to have reported to the school, been let down by the school, brought it to the federal government and then get let down by the federal government," Alexandra Brodsky, a Yale graduate at the head of the federal complaint against the school, said at the time.
The U.S. Department of Education launched an investigation in 2011 following Brodsky's complaint into whether or not Yale was properly reporting its sexual misconduct cases. The Education Department found the school had not and levied penalties against them, but the victims still did not feel as though they got justice.
"I know some people who feel like they went through this whole process for nothing," Wang said, "really just to have their perpetrator get a slap on the wrist."