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Dartmouth College announces plan to fight sexual misconduct

January 3, 2019
FILE- In this May 22, 2018 file photo, students cross The Green in front of the Baker-Berry Library at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon announced Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, a series of policies aimed at creating a learning environment that is free of sexual harassment and abuse of power at the school. The announcement comes nearly two months after seven current and former students sued the Ivy League college, accusing it of ignoring years of harassment and assault by former faculty members in the psychology department. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — In the wake of a sexual misconduct scandal involving professors, Dartmouth College announced plans Thursday for an outside review of all academic departments, a revisal of its sexual misconduct policy and other measures meant to create an environment free from “the abuse of power.”

President Philip Hanlon said the college plans to create a single sexual misconduct policy and include processes for dealing with violations.

It also will start mandatory training on the federal law barring gender discrimination, put more resources into mental health and more.

The measures “aim to create a learning environment free from sexual harassment and abuse of power, where every member of the Dartmouth community can thrive,” Hanlon said.

A group of nearly 70 Dartmouth alumni and students said they were heartened by some of the college’s proposals including an outside committee that will assess the administration’s progress. But they said the proposal was short on details and timelines.

“Our demands derive from specific experiences of sexual violence and gender harassment at Dartmouth — and we firmly believe that they should elicit direct action and response,” Dartmouth Community Against Gender Harassment & Sexual Violence said in a statement.

New Hampshire Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster, who graduated from Dartmouth and is a leading voice in Congress on sexual assault, said she’s encouraged by the proposed changes.

“It’s clear that immediate changes are necessary to ensure that all students are safe,” she said in a statement.

Dartmouth’s announcement comes nearly two months after seven current and former students sued the Ivy League college, accusing it of ignoring years of harassment and assault by former faculty members in the psychology department.

The women contend that professors William Kelley, Paul Whalen and Todd Heatherton harassed and touched women inappropriately, often while out partying at bars or at their homes where one hosted hot tub parties.

Kelley and Whalen are each accused of assaulting a student after a night of drinking, attempting to seduce women under their supervision and punishing those who rebuffed their advances in the Department of Psychological and Brain Science.

Whalen and Kelley have not commented on the allegations, and it is unclear whether they have attorneys to speak for them. Heatherton apologized for acting inappropriately at conferences but said, through a lawyer, that he never socialized or had sexual relations with students.

In a statement, lawyers for the women said Thursday that Dartmouth’s move was long overdue but that it still failed to “acknowledge or accept responsibility for the damage its long history of inaction has caused.” They also called for the college to make the women partners in crafting any reforms.

In October 2017, Dartmouth launched an investigation into the three professors. It never released the findings and was preparing to fire all three. Heatherton retired and Whalen and Kelley resigned first.

The New Hampshire attorney general’s office has also launched its own investigation.

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