Dartmouth College looking to change Sexual Assault Policy

By Christine Souders | csouders@nexstar.tv

Published 03/18 2014 07:13PM

Updated 03/19 2014 01:37PM

HANOVER, NH- The rape trial of a former Dartmouth College student is underway in New Hampshire.

21-year old Parker Gilbert, a freshman at the time of his arrest last year, pleaded not guilty to charges.

He's accused of sexually assaulting a female student inside her dorm room.

Cases, like this are prompting college leaders to examine its procedures.

After an intense federal investigation, Dartmouth's Office of Civil Rights is undergoing its own review.

Dartmouth College leaders are looking to change the school's current sexual assault policy.

"We want to create a culture of reporting where students feel comfortable coming forward," said Justin Anderson, Dartmouth Spokesperson.

Right now, Dartmouth uses an internal committee to deal with sexual assault cases on campus.

It states students should only be "prepared for explusion," something students and community members said is much too vague.

There would be two proposed changes. First having a trained investigator examine these cases, and secondly if a student is convicted, it's mandatory explusion.

A letter was sent out by Dartmouths' College President asking students and community members for comments and suggestions about the proposal.

People we talked to believe the harsher penalties are necessary for those convicted of sexual assualt.

"We hear about it a lot, and I think the negative pubilicity affects people as a whole. It just puts a bad taste in our mouth," said Kimberly Byerly.

"I think they are just trying to make it safe for everyone, and it's a good message to every other college that this stuff needs to stop," said James Metz.

Dartmouth's Board of Trustees has endorsed the proposal, and will vote on the possible changes after getting feedback from the public.

The deadline for public input is April 14th.

Any changes to the policy would go into effect in June.

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