Swarthmore Says It Has Strengthened Response to Campus Sexual Violence

Swarthmore College has carried out many of an outside consultant’s recommendations to improve its response to reports of sexual assault, and will continue to do so as it refines those new practices, college leaders said on Thursday.

The college released a consultant’s final report that showed it had brought on more staff members, provided training for employees, and created a new interim policy for handling reports of sexual assault. The final report builds on an earlier one, prepared by the college’s consultant, that recommended a series of reforms.

“Change does not occur in a vacuum, and our willingness to confront these tough issues and change our behavior, policies, and culture is surely contributing to a broader societal change,” said Rebecca S. Chopp, the college’s president, in a letter to the campus.

The college is one of several institutions being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights over alleged violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Last week President Obama announced the creation of a task force to protect students from sexual assault.

Chopp said that Swarthmore this spring would finalize its new policy on sexual assault, establish a “peer-to-peer” support group and improve prevention programming. The college also will collaborate with Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges on the best model for campus judicial proceedings for students who commit assaults and publish an annual report on the proceedings, she said.

Among the new hires brought on are an advocate to provide guidance through the system for survivors of sexual assault and a hearing adviser to help the accused through the grievance process.

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