COLLEGE
12/05/2014 01:40 pm ET Updated Dec 05, 2014

Jimmy Carter Pushes Colleges To Get Tougher On Campus Rapists

American colleges need to levy harsher punishments on students who commit sexual assault, former President Jimmy Carter told Yale University President Peter Salovey during a public forum on Tuesday.

Carter has been speaking out on the issue since his latest book, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, was released in March.

At the Yale event, the former president explained that students at Emory University, where he serves as a "distinguished professor," pledge to report any sexual assaults they know about to authorities. He said that many campus rapists are serial predators, "but they know they can get away with it on college campuses."

"We're working hard on this issue," Salovey said, citing adjudication and punishment as two areas that he feels his Ivy League university is handling well.

Carter responded, "That's good," but then noted that on the way to the event, he had been reading a 2013 Huffington Post article about Yale not expelling several students after finding them guilty of "nonconsensual sex."

"You can just warn a boy and chastise him -- that doesn't help," Carter said, though he added, "Expulsion is a very difficult thing for universities to accept as a policy."

The former president's comments were met with a round of applause.

"I think our policies and procedures have changed over the last year or two," Salovey said.

"I'm not surprised," Carter said, as the crowd began to laugh.

Since the publication of the August 2013 that article Carter referenced, Yale has issued a series of hypothetical scenarios to explain how various kinds of sexual misconduct should be sanctioned. The university has also stopped using the term "nonconsensual sex" and now publishes data on sexual assault.

"Yale takes all violations of its sexual misconduct policy extremely seriously, even if they do not meet a criminal standard," said university spokeswoman Karen Peart in a statement. "Yale addresses violations with sanctions up to and including expulsion, as are indicated in our semi-annual reports, and will continue to do so as warranted."

Speaking at Yale rival Princeton University on Wednesday, Carter made a similar jab, declaring that most colleges have a "let's just look the other way" policy when it comes to rape. "This university is not immune from that," Carter said.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Education found that Princeton had violated the federal gender equity law Title IX in how it handled sexual violence on campus.

A Huffington Post analysis this year showed that most colleges and universities do not expel students they find responsible for sexual assault, and nearly one-fourth of assailants are not removed from campus for any time period.

“I can't understand why a university would want a serial rapist to remain as a student," Carter said at Princeton.

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