Dartmouth College is reeling from a sexual misconduct scandal involving several of its professors. In November 2018, seven women filed a federal lawsuit against the Ivy League school, alleging that three former tenured professors, all members of the Psychological and Brain Sciences faculty, treated female students as sex objects.
The accusations include not only sexual harassment, but rape. The three professors have since retired or resigned, and the school has launched a new initiative to address and combat sexual misconduct on its campus.
Dartmouth Allowed Behavior to Continue for Years
According to the lawsuit, Dartmouth officials knew of the inappropriate sexual behavior and yet did nothing about it for 16 years. It was not until 2017, when several female graduate students contacted the college’s Title IX office – which is charged with reviewing and investigating sexual misconduct charges – to make the allegations, that an investigation was launched.
The lawsuit claims the professors encouraged female students to drink, while making them feel their success depended on participating in the “alcohol-saturated” culture. These professors controlled all of the resources, according to one graduate student.
The lawsuit also alleges that Dartmouth did not provide the students with any support or guidance and stopped the disciplinary process against the accused without any input from the accusers.
While Dartmouth officials said they “applauded the courage” of the female graduate students for coming forward, they also disagreed with how the complaint characterized the school’s actions.
Highlights of the New Program
Dartmouth’s new program, called the Campus Climate and Culture Initiative (CCCI), includes a mandatory sexual violence training program conducted online for all faculty and staff, as well as graduate students. Further, graduate students will now have access to multiple research advisors.
Additionally, there is now one policy to address sexual misconduct for students, faculty and staff, with processes for violation adjudication. The new program also expands the school’s Title IX office, along with increased mental health services and a review of academic departments by outside experts.
While many of the actions behind the initiative were begun in 2017, officials admit the accusations against the three professors strengthened the school’s resolve to ensure that its learning environment was free from abuse of power and sexual misconduct.
However, an attorney for the plaintiffs says that CCCI “misses the mark,” as it merely means Dartmouth now complies with federal law. She says the school is still not accepting responsibility for the damage that its long period of unresponsiveness has caused.
While the initiative proclaims its inclusivity, the attorney states that the school has not acknowledged that what these women experienced would have a lasting impact on their lives.
Middletown Sexual Harassment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Help Victims of Sexual Harassment
Call our Red Bank office at 732-842-6500, our Marlton office at 856-985-9800, our Newark office at 973-878-9040, or contact us at 888-396-0736 or online for a free consultation. We represent clients throughout New Jersey.