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Jul 25, 2014 04:17 AM EDT

HWS to Change Policies After NYT Disclosed School’s Mishandling of Rape Complaint

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The Hobart and William Smith Colleges has decided to modify policies on sexual misconduct cases after a recent New York Times story revealed how the school mishandled a student's rape complaint.

"There will be changes in policies and procedures for adjudication of allegations of sexual misconduct. They will be in place before the fall semester," said Robert Flowers, vice president for student affairs at Hobart and William Smith, in a statement

The New York Times story was about an 18-year-old freshman, who was sexually assaulted by three football players at a fraternity party, beginning of last academic year. A disciplinary panel at the Geneva-based school did not file any criminal charges against the suspects and cleared them of any wrongdoing.

Appalled by the revelations about the school's mismanagement of the campus sexual assault case, the Coalition of Concerned Students started an online petition demanding quick and effective modifications of the policies. The petition has so far accumulated 3,971 signatures.

The student group is urging school officials to appoint "qualified individuals" on the adjudication panel that reviews sexual assault allegations and more rape prevention and student life seminars, focusing on bystander intervention.

HWS Community for Change, established by Hobart and William Smith's alumni, recommends: "create transparency and inclusion of stakeholders (students, faculty and alumni) in the review committee, responsible for suggesting possible changes in procedures and policies."

Gretchen Sword, a 2006 Hobart and William Smith graduate and spokeswoman for Community for Change, said that both the groups are working together.

"We are not only working together; we have a longer document that has been submitted to the leadership of the colleges," said Sword, Democrat and Chronicle reports.

"For me, it goes beyond the administration to the community. We all have to accept responsibility as members of the college's community to stay engaged in this," said David Grome, a 29-year-old 2007 Hobart and William Smith graduate from Rochester.

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