Don’t set a double-standard for campus sexual assault

In recent days the Globe has printed articles about campus sexual assault policies and Title IX (“Law Firms Focus on Campus Sex Cases,” Page A1, Sept. 11; “Surprising allies on campus assault rules,” Page A1, Sept. 15). Aside from these articles and a published letter by Stephanie Decandia (Letters, Sept. 18), it is important that the resolution of such cases be documented publicly.

The Globe reported on May 29, 2015, an alleged assault at Amherst College. Several other cases in Massachusetts have also been reported; all have been handled on campus through college-generated guidelines. The resolutions of these cases have rarely received notice. In fact, two years after the complaint at Amherst College, it was The Washington Post that reported a resolution in favor of the Amherst College defendant, that all charges were dismissed after exonerating evidence was found among the plaintiff’s text messages.

Questions remain: Was the young man readmitted to Amherst College? Was there an apology? A change in procedures? Were the faculty involved reprimanded? One can only imagine the huge financial cost as this dragged out over two years, a justifiable penalty for the school’s steadfast assumption of guilt by the young man. The only reported statement from the college was that “The matter has been resolved.” In fact, there will probably be little notice of this resolution and exoneration unless publicly reported.


Sexual assaults are crimes. Procedures must avoid college kangaroo courts and include involvement with law authorities, who can investigate properly. Transparency is key, even as schools see this as bad publicity. The noble goal of keeping a young adult off the rolls of sexual predators by dealing quietly with these issues on the campus sets a double standard between college students and other adults at large. Such a goal is no excuse for mitigating the toll this takes, which lasts a lifetime.

Sam Ellenport