Tuesday 10 May 2011

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Reed College To Loosen Confidentiality Policy In Sexual Harassment Cases

Reed College officials are prepared to take steps towards easing the college’s confidentiality policy in sexual assault cases, according to the Portland Oregonian.

The current policy asks victims to keep exceedingly quiet about details of their cases — leading one student to question whether she could even discuss the incident with her parents. The policy also spurred a board member’s resignation in February.

In a student forum Monday, Reed President Colin Diver said, “I think it’s time for the community to seriously consider tilting the arrow more seriously toward disclosure.” College spokesman Kevin Myers says Reed’s sexual assault policies are in keeping with Vice President Joe Biden’s guidelines released earlier this week, but that the university will pursue changes nonetheless. “There is consensus about at least changing the confidentiality requirements,” he said, according to the Oregonian.

In an open letter, Isabel Manley, the board member who resigned, described Reed’s policy as “a hearing process that currently leaves survivors little option other than spending hours in the same room as their alleged assailant, as both parties recount the alleged assault.”

Currently, students who choose to initiate an honors proceeding can either go before an adjudicating body of faculty and staff or one made up entirely of students. They are otherwise free to report incidents directly to any official.

How do you think sexual assault cases should be handled at colleges? Let us know in the comments section.

A previous version of this article said that to report incidents of assault, the college’s students must come forward before a judicial board made up of other students and resolve the case without the help of trained professionals.

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