Dartmouth Announces New Unified Policy on Sexual Misconduct

The policy is the same for all members of the Dartmouth community.

Dartmouth today unveiled its new unified policy to address sexual misconduct. In the works for more than a year, the policy applies to all faculty, students, and staff and is designed to provide clarity and consistency across the institution, setting uniform expectations and resolution processes.      

“It is my hope that this new policy will make it clear to all members of our community that they have a right to be free from sexual harassment and other forms of misconduct,” says Provost Joseph Helble. “At Dartmouth, we are committed to the safety and well-being of every member of our community.”

All faculty, students, and staff were notified of the policy, which takes effect Sept. 1, in an email today from Helble; Kristi Clemens, the Title IX officer and Clery Act compliance officer; and Scot Bemis, the chief human resources officer.

“This important work, which has taken more than a year, spells out the behaviors that are unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our learning community,” they wrote.

The policy, approved by trustees at their June meeting, says the College is “committed to establishing and maintaining a safe learning, living, and working environment where healthy, respectful, and consensual conduct represents the campus cultural norm.” And that “prohibited conduct undermines the character and mission of Dartmouth, and will not be tolerated.”

In January 2018, President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 announced that Dartmouth would review institution-wide policies and make recommendations on revisions. At the time, the nation was in the midst of a reckoning on sexual misconduct following widespread allegations of sexual harassment and assault involving figures in the media, politics, entertainment, academia, and other fields.

The new policy builds on work by the Presidential Steering Committee on Sexual Misconduct, which was appointed by President Hanlon in February 2018 and spent several months reviewing best practices at peer institutions, hosting listening sessions for members of the community, and identifying parameters to inform the development of policies and training plans.

Dartmouth’s senior leadership then worked with consultants who are nationally recognized for their expertise in assisting institutions in implementing fair and impartial prevention and resolution processes using a “trauma-informed” approach, which involves understanding how traumatic experiences affect those involved. The new policy and procedures were created through a consultative process that involved faculty committees and leadership, other institutional stakeholders, and student leaders. 

The policy defines prohibited conduct as:

• Sexual and gender-based harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, relationship and interpersonal violence, provision of alcohol and/or other drugs for purposes of prohibited conduct, and stalking;

• Retaliation against an individual for making a report of prohibited conduct or for participating in an investigation or resolution of an alleged violation of this policy; and

• Exertion of power, supervision, or authority by one individual over another in relationships of a sexual or intimate nature.

Members of the Dartmouth community who report prohibited conduct to the College’s Title IX Office can seek a formal or informal resolution. Each of the processes is led by the Title IX coordinator, and investigations are conducted by an external investigator or, in the case of a staff member, the chief human resources officer.

Supportive and protective remedies are available through the Title IX Office to anyone seeking a formal or informal resolution. For each group—faculty, students, and staff—there is a separate process to investigate and resolve allegations of prohibited conduct.

“Dartmouth is committed to supporting the members of our community who have experienced sexual or gender-based violence and ensuring that they are able to engage in the academic pursuits that brought them to our campus,” says Clemens.

“I am grateful for the hard work done by our faculty and senior leaders in creating the policy and procedures, and I appreciate the clarity the documents provide. Together with other initiatives from around the institution, we are continuing our progress toward a campus free from harassment and harm,” she says.

Susan J. Boutwell can be reached at [email protected].