Friday, March 04, 2011

Friday Good News: The Dickinson College Sit-in

Around 200 students took over the Memorial Hall at Dickinson College to demand changes in the college's sexual assault policy. It seems that they got those changes, though it's unclear whether they already were in the works as the college administration argues.

This is one of those stories where you might get very different information from different articles. Compare these two, for example.

From the latter:
Dickinson officials said they take the students' concerns seriously and have been addressing them, including hiring a sexual violence prevention coordinator and implementing a required orientation program on sexual misconduct for new students. The university recently concluded an 18-month study to improve handling of sexual misconduct cases, and is using a $300,000 federal grant to make improvements.
But officials cautioned that the issue is a thorny one, with more gray areas when it comes to conduct and to laws that require the confidentiality of those involved be protected.
"It's an extremely difficult situation, and it can frustrate people who want to know everything and want to know it now," Dickinson president William Durden said in an interview. "We've been doing quite a bit to work on these issues. In this case, everything they demand is already in process."
Because the cases are date rape or acquaintance rape, they can be difficult to investigate and deal with, Durden said.
"It's all behind closed doors. It's extremely complex. Some folks would like to make it more simple than it is," he said.

Note that the focus in these comments is not on student safety but rather on the safety of those accused. Or that is how I read them. Perhaps the protesting Dickinson students argue that the process has been tipped too far into the direction of not caring about their safety? In any case, it must be possible to create general alerts without giving out details which might harm those still under investigation.