Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Treat rape as crime, not disciplinary issue

To the editor:

I’m glad to hear that Amherst College President Biddy Martin is moving quickly to establish a more credible policy on sexual violence on campus. However, I believe no such policy can be effective unless sexual assault and harassment are treated as crimes, not as disciplinary issues.

If a person says she has been raped, it is a matter for the police, the prosecutors and the courts. If the accused is found guilty, the consequences should be the same, whether the rape occurred on a college campus or on the street: for most rapists, that includes jail time. Suspension or expulsion from school hardly counts as punishment for a crime as serious as rape.

Amherst College has a chance to lead the way in confronting sexual violence on campus. If a rape is reported, the college should provide whatever support is needed to see that the incident is put in the hands of local police for a criminal investigation. Disciplinary action is fine, but it should never take the place of the criminal justice system. If they do the crime, let them do the time.

Michael Dover

Amherst

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