College Seeks Comments on Sex Assault Disciplinary Policy


President Phil Hanlon ’77 and Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson, together with Interim Provost Martin Wybourne and the deans of the faculties, have issued an invitation to all members of the Dartmouth community to make comments and offer suggestions on a proposal to revise the College’s student disciplinary policy for charges of sexual assault.

“We believe a new system along the lines proposed would encourage reporting, expedite the disciplinary process, enhance consistency in sanctioning, and represent a stronger deterrent to sexual assault. We encourage your participation in the process of shaping this policy,” wrote President Hanlon and Dean Johnson in a letter posted on the Office of the President’s website.

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The proposed policy “reflects the many discussions we have had throughout the community concerning this important subject, and in particular it builds on the work of the Student and Presidential Committee on Sexual Assault and the Committee on Student Safety and Accountability,” the letter states.

Members of the community are encouraged to read and respond to a summary of the key features of the proposal. Comments and suggestions should be submitted no later than April 14, by email to The goal is to implement the new policy by the beginning of summer term.

Alternatively, comments can be shared online publicly at the Improve Dartmouth website, which is accessible to Dartmouth students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Sessions of Moving Dartmouth Forward will also provide an opportunity to discuss the proposal in the context of a dialogue about the larger issues.

The invitation to submit comments follows the March 8 meeting of the Board of Trustees in which the Board voiced unanimous support for a proposal from Hanlon and Johnson to comprehensively revise Dartmouth’s disciplinary system for sexual assault by students.

Under the proposal, a single system would apply to undergraduates, graduate students, and student organizations. Key features of the proposal include use of a trained external investigator to investigate and determine responsibility for sexual assault, and strengthened sanctions including:

  • Mandatory expulsion in cases involving penetration accomplished by force, threat, or purposeful incapacitation or where an assault involving penetration is motivated by bias;
  • Mandatory expulsion where the charged student has previously been found responsible for sexual assault; and
  • In other cases involving penetration, a strong presumption in favor of expulsion.
Hanlon and Johnson have said they believe the new system would encourage reporting, expedite the process, increase consistency in sanctioning, and represent a stronger deterrent to sexual assault.
Office of Communications