By Emily Gold Boutilier
[Update] Responses to sexual assault complaints were “quite mixed and at times inadequate” prior to summer 2012. First-year women are most at risk of being raped. Sexual misconduct is not a worse problem at Amherst than it is at other colleges.
Those are among the conclusions in a Jan. 30 report of the college’s Special Oversight Committee on Sexual Misconduct, which President Biddy Martin formed as one response to Angie Epifano ’14’s published account of being raped on campus.
“Amherst College has not been sweeping the problem under the rug,” according to the 55-page report. However, that “is not to say that the College always responds well to the cases that it knows about.”
The report recommends reorganizing the dean of students’ office to make it “more proactive and less crisis-driven.” In a statement, the board of trustees called this reorganization, and better coordination of administrative functions, “of central importance.”
The report suggests reducing “the involvement of faculty members and other students” in the adjudication process for sexual assaults.
The report also states that:
- Athletes and underground fraternity members are not disproportionally represented among perpetrators of sexual misconduct at Amherst, nor is “any other clearly identifiable group.”
- The number of sexual assaults at Amherst closely matches those at other four-year colleges, according to a national survey.
- Some student groups press alcohol upon first-years “in a process that looks a good deal like hazing.” The committee recommends that Amherst revisit its alcohol policies.
Martin, professor and committee chair Margaret Hunt and consultant Gina M. Smith addressed the report at a Feb. 5 open forum.