Dear Students of Harvard College,
We call upon you to encourage Harvard College to re-examine its sexual assault policies and practices.
After increased attention to Title IX discrimination by the Office of Civil Rights, Harvard continued an internal investigation into its sexual assault policies until June of this year, when it determined it would not change its grievance process. Despite this decision, we believe that the incidence of two stranger rapes on campus, the struggle of a Harvard University employee to seek recompense after being sxually harassed in the workplace, and the large-scale adoption of more progressive policies by its peer institutions should steer the college in a direction where it critically evaluates current procedures.
“Rape culture” describes a society in which sexual violence is trivialized and survivors of sexual assault are blamed for speaking out. Such attitudes create a campus climate that is harmful to both the safety and the agency of its students. Our Harvard can do better. We believe that in order to prioritize the well-being of the student body, the college should re-examine its sexual assault policies and practices to reflect the values and needs of its students, by considering the following changes:
- Reframing the sexual assault policy to reflect affirmative consent
- Releasing confidentially each incidence of sexual assault and the relevant actions taken by the administration as per the Federal Clery Act, based on the resolution agreement between Yale and the Office of Civil Rights
- Specifying the “mental incapacitation” phrase to more clearly determine the point at which someone is unable to consent under the influence
- Using language inclusive of LGBTQ-identifying students
- Setting a length of time the administrative board may take to address a sexual assault grievance to ensure accountability of the grievance process
- Increasing the number of staff members and the amount of funding allotted to the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention (OSAPR)
- Offering comprehensive and inclusive sex education for all students of all years
- Actively engaging student voices in addressing these changes
Students who signed the petition below agree that Harvard College should re-examine its sexual assault policies and practices: