Response to ‘Call to act: reform the sexual misconduct policy’
Although we commend recent efforts to increase awareness of sexual assault on Duke’s campus, we were concerned by comments made in the April 5 article “Call to act: reform the sexual misconduct policy.” The Office of Student Conduct Advisory Committee was expressly designed so that student representatives could speak freely with Office of Student Conduct administrators about issues pertaining to campus policy. The use of a specific quote from this free flowing conversation without any context or nuance undoes much of the trust that has been built between student leaders and Student Conduct administrators and hampers future communication. There are certainly more effective ways of advocating for an issue that we believe students care about deeply.
Finally, we would like to draw attention to other recent changes that have been made to the sexual misconduct policy. The standard of evidence for all cases of harassment has been reduced from a “clear and convincing” to a “preponderance of evidence,” meaning that if an Undergraduate Conduct Board hearing determines that a sexual assault is “more likely than not” to have occurred, the accused student will be found responsible. Secondly, victims of sexual assault have been given the right to appeal a UCB decision.
These efforts reflect an Office of Student Conduct that is committed to supporting the needs of victims. Undoubtedly, there are many social and personal factors that affect a student’s decision to report a sexual assault, and it should be noted that the disciplinary process is not the right decision for every victim. We hope that efforts are made to uncover the factors that prevent reporting so that the needs of sexual assault victims are better met.
Nick Valilis, Trinity ’12
Honor Council Chair
Allison Umfress, Trinity ’12