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Dartmouth Colleges Adopts New Sexual Misconduct Policy

To promote an environment free from sexual harassment and the abuse of power, Dartmouth College is rolling out a new, unified sexual and gender-based misconduct policy for faculty, students, and staff.

The new policy was adopted by the Board of Trustees, who met last week to discuss providing the school’s student body with a more inclusive, welcoming and equitable campus.

“This single policy creates clear and consistent expectations to ensure a reliable and impartial institutional response to sexual misconduct claims, and it establishes appropriate processes for adjudicating potential violations of the policy,” university president Philip J. Hanlon said.

Along with the passage of the sexual and gender-based misconduct policy, the board also approved making Title IX training mandatory for faculty and staff, in addition to starting two academic department climate reviews in a campus-wide program.

To check the abuse of power, the college has made it compulsory for its graduate programs to establish research advisory committees for the oversight of theses and dissertations, instead of having one adviser overseeing the work of graduate students.

Moving ahead, the Title IX office will also produce an annual report on Title IX complaints and outcomes to keep the campus community informed. The office has already added three new full-time positions, including two new mental health professionals.

The initiative comes months after seven current and former psychology students sued the college for allowing a culture of “sexual assault, harassment and discrimination” to take place by three professors from within the department of psychological and brain sciences.

The suit alleged professors Todd Heatherton, William Kelley and Paul Whalen of promoting a drinking culture among students, often forcing students to attend lab meetings at bars, making inappropriate advances towards women and often threatening them with retaliation if they did not comply.

Following the backlash, the college started a new Campus Climate and Culture Initiative in January. It also made an online sexual violence prevention program compulsory for all faculty, staff, post-doctoral scholars, and graduate and professional students.

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