How One College Handled a Sexual Assault Complaint in the New York Times shows how Hobart and William Smith College botched the investigation of a student’s rape complaint.
As the case illustrates, school disciplinary panels are a world unto themselves, operating in secret with scant accountability and limited protections for the accuser or the accused.
. . . At a time of great emotional turmoil, students who say they were assaulted must make a choice: Seek help from their school, turn to the criminal justice system or simply remain silent. The great majority — including the student in this case — choose their school, because of the expectation of anonymity and the belief that administrators will offer the sort of support that the police will not.
Yet many students come to regret that decision, wishing they had never reported the assault in the first place.
College officials aren’t competent to investigate violent crimes. All victims of assault should be told to call the police immediately — before evidence is destroyed — and cooperate fully. Treat sexual assault as a crime, not a violation of the student behavior code.
All sexual assaults should be reported to the police immediately — for the safety of the victim and possible future victims.