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GW faculty have no idea how to handle sexual-assault reports

Whatever your thoughts on the fairness of the sexual-assault reporting system at George Washington University, its utter complexity doesn’t seem to be helping either accuser or accused.

The GW Hatchet reports that top faculty members have said “they didn’t know they’re legally obligated to report the allegation” when students report assault to them, and don’t think their colleagues know either:

GW already sends faculty-wide emails and teaches professors about the University’s sexual assault resources at department meetings and new employee orientation. A faculty member’s role in responding to sexual assault is also available online in the University’s 20-page sexual harassment policy.

But faculty say though they do hear about how to help a student cope with a sexual assault, information about their responsibilities can get lost in their email inboxes. …

Melani McAlister, the head of the American Studies department, said at December’s Faculty Senate meeting that she just learned she must report student sexual assault allegations to the police because she is a department chair. That’s a tricky balancing act, McAlister said, because students also come to her for advice about family issues and problems outside of school.

The bureaucracy is maddening:

Gregg Brazinsky, an assistant professor of history and international affairs, said that having so many offices working on the University’s response to sexual assault could be confusing for students.

“The bureaucracy surrounding this issue seems to be complex and unwieldy,” he said at the December Faculty Senate meeting. “Might there be a way to simplify it for the students so they have one clear path, very clear route of what they could do?”

Here’s the school’s vice provost for diversity and inclusion – so wait, you don’t have to report?

“The University’s strong preference is that the matter be reported, but does not rule out situations in which the information conveyed by a student, considered in its entirety, cause the faculty member to conclude that the best interests of neither the student nor the University require the matter to be reported to [UPD],” Reed said in an email.

A sociology professor says faculty members often consult each other:

“If there’s a feminist in the department, a woman in the department, if they themselves don’t know what to do, then the first thing a lot of them do is ask each other,” Ken said.

Read the Hatchet story.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg Piper served as associate editor of The College Fix from 2014 to 2021.