Duke Student Government has resolved to urge administrators to change the sexual misconduct policy.
The senate unanimously passed a resolution to condemn the University’s policy and demand that the statute of limitations be removed at its meeting Wednesday. This follows the Jan. 2012 reduction in the statute of limitations for reporting incidents. The policy change reduced the amount of time students have to report incidents from two years to one.
“We saw a lot of students were really angered by this change,” said junior Stefani Jones, vice president for equity and outreach.
She added that no students were consulted in the decision to change the policy. Led by Jones, the Equity and Outreach Committee has investigated the misconduct policies at many of Duke’s peer institutions. Jones noted that multiple universities—including Harvard University, Brown University and Princeton University—have no statute of limitations with regard to reporting sexual misconduct. Additionally, North Carolina state law does not include a statute of limitations for reporting sexual assault or misconduct.
Administrators said the policy change was a response to federal regulations for universities released by the U.S. Department of Education, which required sexual harassment reporting procedures for students to match those for University employees.
Although policies such as the mandatory reporting policy that Duke implemented in 2009, which requires employees to report any incidents of sexual violence of which they become aware, are aimed at assisting the victims of sexual assault, the Office of Student Conduct only followed through on six out of the 163 reported cases of gender violence in during the 2011-2012 academic year, Jones said, who noted that she received the information from Sheila Broderick, gender violence intervention services coordinator at the Women’s Center.
A 2005 U.S. Department of Justice report found that one out of every five female students on a college campus will be a victim of rape, Jones noted. Most of the assaults go unreported.
Under the current Duke policy, the victims of sexual assault have no means of pursuing disciplinary action against their attacker if the incident occurred more than one year prior.
“Even one victim that the Office of Student Conduct is turning away is enough for us to need to change this policy,” Jones said, adding that she received an anonymous report of a victim who was prevented from reporting an incident that had occurred one year and 24 days before.
Jones noted that administrators in the Office of Student Conduct have been unable to provide rationale as to why the statute exists.
“We regularly expel people for cheating at Duke, but no one has ever been expelled for rape,” Jones said.
In other business:
The senate also passed a motion to officially swear in at-large senators to DSG.
“We have the biggest and the best senate ever, and we are going to have an exceptionally productive year,” said Executive Vice President Patrick Oathout, a junior.
Oathout also introduced changes to the online “Fix My Campus” system, which allows students to submit complaints about campus life. Students will now be able to submit ideas and suggestions through texting, tweeting and a mobile application.
The on-campus group “Who Needs Feminism?”—a campaign to raise awareness and understanding about feminist issues— requested to be officially recognized as a Duke club. SOFC Chair Kat Krieger, a junior, presented the proposal, and it passed by unanimous consent.
Junior Neil Kondamuri, vice president for social culture, briefed the senate on plans for upcoming tailgates. Festivities for the Oct. 6 football game against the University of Virginia will begin earlier because the game begins at 3 p.m.
Kondamuri noted that the social culture committee is working especially hard to promote the Oct. 20 game against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He noted that it will be a chance for the Duke community to rally against a “common enemy.”