Colleges Face Conflicting Pressures in Dealing With Cases of Sexual Assault

Colleges Face Conflicting Pressures in Dealing With Cases of Sexual Assault 1

Jason Malmont, The Sentinel, AP Images

Students at Dickinson College, upset by its handling of sexual-assault investigations, demanded a clearer policy, including mandatory expulsion in cases of rape. But some experts argue that single-option penalties could reduce already low reporting levels of the incidents.

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close Colleges Face Conflicting Pressures in Dealing With Cases of Sexual Assault 1

Jason Malmont, The Sentinel, AP Images

Students at Dickinson College, upset by its handling of sexual-assault investigations, demanded a clearer policy, including mandatory expulsion in cases of rape. But some experts argue that single-option penalties could reduce already low reporting levels of the incidents.

The work of investigating, hearing, and deciding sexual-assault cases is complex and excruciating. Often it revolves around acquaintances, alcohol, and hazy recollections.

Criminal prosecutors decline to pursue many "he said/she said" cases, but colleges don't have that choice.

Federal civil-rights law requires them to resolve all reported of­fenses. And increasingly, public pressure bears down just as powerfully.

Advocacy for alleged victims has intensified in the