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How should Occidental College handle on-campus sexual assault?

In Eagle Rock, California, Occidental College's Thorne Hall
In Eagle Rock, California, Occidental College's Thorne Hall
victoriabernal/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

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A case brought against Occidental College by several current and former students alleges that the school failed to respond adequately to sexual assault on campus. The group of Occidental students and alumni includes some who say the college failed to protect against sexual assault – their attorney, Gloria Allred, argues Allred that 37 students were “raped, sexually assaulted, battered, harassed or retaliated against for speaking out against sexual violence."

Occidental is in the process of reviewing its policies on sexual assault, and recently updated its approach to sexual misconduct cases on campus. The school is not the first to deal with allegations of inappropriate responses to sexual assault – female students at UNC Greensboro and Vassar have notably spoken out about the mishandling of cases in recent years.

How should schools handle sexual misconduct cases? Who is responsible for carrying out prosecution, the university, or local law enforcement? How can colleges better protect their students from sexual assault? Should they be liable for crimes committed on campus?

Gina Maisto Smith, Attorney with Pepper Hamilton; she was one of two independent attorneys brought on to consult the school in early April. She’s worked previously on cases at Amherst and UNC

Donna Potts, of the American Association of University Professors, and co-author of the AAUP’s official statement on appropriate campus sexual assault policy

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