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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


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