A Dartmouth College freshman said she was sexually assaulted weeks after another student named her in an Internet message board "rape guide," raising questions about the Ivy League school's handling of the website.
The post that students have labeled a "rape guide" appeared last month on the anonymous message board Bored@Baker, which is not affiliated with the college, but is restricted to those with a Dartmouth email address. The post named the woman, noted she lives in the Choates residence complex, and explained how to make her want to perform oral sex. "If not have her do it anyways," the post said. Within weeks, there were more than three dozen references on the message board to "Choates Whore."
After the "rape guide" post, the woman was sexually assaulted at a fraternity party, she said.
"For the first time in months, I started feeling safe," the woman wrote later in a private group on Facebook. "I went out last week and got assaulted at the first and only house I went to. Then I got told it happens all the time. I hope that maybe someone reading this will do something, because I have no one to turn to."
The student who wrote the "rape guide" was removed from campus and faces judgement by the the college community standards process. The young woman said she did not report the assault to authorities, but is frustrated the college did not do something about Bored@Baker, especially since she was targeted by similar posts last fall that included her photo.
"I was completely disgusted and afraid and I didn't know how to react," the woman, who asked not to be identified, told The Huffington Post.
Dartmouth's Greek leaders and college administrators issued statements condemning the message board post. Horrified alumni discussed it online and hundreds of students gathered on the Dartmouth Green one night this month in solidarity with sexual assault victims.
Blocking the website for Dartmouth students isn't realistic, said college spokesman John D. Cramer.
"The college doesn’t control or support it, nor, given the nature of the Internet, do we have the capacity to block access," Cramer said. Referring to the "rape guide" author, Cramer added that "the language and views expressed by this individual don’t reflect the Dartmouth community."
The website has caused problems at the Hanover, N.H., school in the past. In April 2013, posts disparaged protesters called "Real Talk Dartmouth" aiming to raise discussion of campus sexual assault. The vitriol and death threats posted online led the college to cancel classes for a "Day of Dialogue," an unpopular move among students at the time.
The student who was raped last month said she happened to be in the audience last April, when those Real Talk protesters disrupted an event for prospective students, shouting that the college had a sexual violence problem that was not being dealt with. "I felt like if they needed to go to that extent to make their voices heard, I did think maybe Dartmouth does have a problem," the student said.
No one was punished for the online threats against the Real Talk advocates, and the college refused requests to block Bored@Baker from the school's WiFi, according to Nastassja Schmiedt, a protester who left the school after the spring 2013 term.
The college is aware of the website's impact. Theater professor Peter Hackett recalled administrators in 2011 trying to persuade against a performance he was planning because, in part, the performers would be attacked on the message board.
The controversy over the message board comes as sexual violence is at the forefront of campus debate.
Dartmouth is one of 41 colleges and universities under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights for potential violations of Title IX, a federal law forbidding gender discrimination. The college also faces a Clery Act complaint filed by students and recent alumni, alleging violations of the campus security law through underreporting of sexual violence, hazing and bias incidents.
Earlier this school year, five of the nine members of the Panhellenic Council -- a student group overseeing sororities -- announced they would not participate in sorority rush during the winter term, saying the school and the Greek system must do more to deal with sexual assault and harassment.
Panhellenic Council Vice President Michelle Khare said she felt like the Greek system wasn't a "safe place" for women.
"Morally, the five of us don't feel capable of putting more girls into a system like this," Khare said. "We just can't do that until the system is fixed and heals."
The Panhellenic Council women demanded reforms, , including the expulsion of students found guilty of rape "immediately with absolutely no exceptions," and including past offenses in the adjudication process. The administration should include "a list of resources and pertinent phone numbers" on every class syllabus to combat "a lack of dissemination of information for members of campus who have been sexually assaulted or raped," the women said.
Documents provided by Dartmouth show that from 2010 to 2013, sexual violence cases accounted for 4 percent of 107 student "major misconduct" cases. In those sexual violence cases, two students were "separated or resigned" from the college, two students were suspended, two were placed on probation, and four were found "not responsible."
Like the Panhell Council members, the Student and Presidential Committee on Sexual Assault said in an email last month it also recommends incorporating the language of "rape" or equivalent wording into the student handbook, and making expulsion the preferred sanction for sexual assault.
Dartmouth is arranging a conference this summer on sexual assault co-hosted by University of Massachusetts Boston professor David Lisak, an expert on campus rape, and Dartmouth president Phil Hanlon.
The school announced a new sexual assault center on campus on Feb. 7, and is hosting a series of public meetings with Hanlon called "Moving Dartmouth Forward." Among other topics, the meetings will discuss campus safety. It spent $1.1 million on initiatives devoted to sexual assault, high-risk drinking and campus climate in the last three years, according to spokesman Justin Anderson.
"What we do here is not going to result in sexual assault being totally eradicated, that's not a realistic goal," Anderson said. "What is realistic is getting people to come forward."
Hanlon declined interview requests, but issued a statement promising to tackle these issues.
"Student life is one of my top priorities as president, and I am committed to working with the Dean of the College, students, faculty and staff to foster a safe, productive and healthy environment for all students in all settings at Dartmouth," Hanlon said in the statement.