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Elizabeth Geffre

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Amherst College's Reform Strategy

Posted: 04/04/2013 5:31 pm

"Sexual harassment and misconduct are problems across the college campuses of America and Amherst College is no exception," states Amherst College's SMOC report.

In response to the scrutiny that Amherst College has undergone in the media, they've found it necessary to bring about a new reform to the way they handle sexual misconduct on campus. The Special Oversight Committee on Sexual Misconduct wrote a 55-page report, known as the SMOC Report: Toward a Culture of Respect, which summarizes Amherst College's previous policies in regards to sexual misconduct and works towards the improvement of policies on campus.

The report states:

The strong community response to the letter in the Amherst Student, and the volume of complaints coming in about poorly coordinated services for victims, gave rise to a series of larger discussions about what else Amherst could do to improve support for survivors and about ways to prevent sexual assault and misconduct happening in the first place. The Special Oversight Committee on Sexual Misconduct was a result.

For a college that consists of roughly 1,800 students, there has been a great deal of buzz surrounding the small liberal arts college. The administration has received backlash for the way it has handled these accounts of sexual assault. As the report continues, "First the committee looked at whether the College had swept sexual assault cases under the rug as has happened at some colleges and universities."

This past fall, two major articles about two Amherst College students who were sexually assaulted were released; one of them was Angie Epifano. In her article, she discusses the ways Amherst College failed her after she reported her sexual assault.

There was also Trey Malone. The president of the college, Biddy Martin, has spoken out about how the administration has handled such situations. After Trey Malone took his life in June 2012 after being sexually assaulted while at Amherst College, President Martin issued a statement to the public. Malone's story can be read here.

On February 5, 2013, Amherst College held a community meeting where students and faculty members were able to respond to the report with any questions or comments, though the media was not invited.

"Students and other members of the community requested that we ask that media not cover the Feb. 5 meeting out of respect and consideration for survivors and others present who might have difficult feelings or memories triggered by the discussion," said Caroline Hanna, director of Media Relations for Amherst College.

HuffPost College has partnered with the Steve Fox's investigative journalism class at the University of Massachusetts to report on open claims of sexual violence on colleges and universities, and how the institutions are responding to them.

 
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