This is egregious

31 03 2009

For those of you who don’t know what Tufts’ official sexual assault policy is, here it is:

The University supports the right of the victim/survivor of a sexual assault to decide how best to utilize various University, community, private, and public remedies to address crimes of sexual assault. Within the University, instances of sexual assault may be reported to the following offices:

For Arts, Sciences, and Engineering students:

The Office of the Dean of Students

617 627-3158

For all other Students and Staff/Faculty:

The Office of Equal Opportunity

617 627-3298

Instances of sexual assault may also be reported to the Tufts University Police Department:

Medford Police Department: 617 627-3030

Boston Police Department: 617 636-6610

Grafton Police Department: 508 839-5303


There are so many things wrong with this non-policy that I don’t even know where to begin.  For starters, there is no definition of sexual assault.  Furthermore, why is the Dean of Students’ Office the first telephone number listed?!  Who is going to call the Dean to report being sexually assaulted?!  How awkward would that be?!  Besides, most assaults do not occur during the 9-5 work hours so students would just be directed to voicemail. 

The resources that should be listed but aren’t are the contact information for Elaine Theodore, the Sexual Violence Resource Coordinator (located at Health Services); Susan Mahoney, the Sexual Assault Clinician (also located at Health Services); as well as the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC). 

It is also seems a little irrelevant to include the phone numbers for the local police departments because many survivors may not feel like reporting especially if the perpetrator is another student, someone they are friends with or someone they know on campus.  Furthermore, putting the phone numbers of the police departments while not putting the phone numbers for the Sexual Violence Resource Coordinator, the Sexual Assault Clinician, and BARCC, seems to sway survivors into reporting. 

Reporting is an option, but it is an option that not many survivors choose to go through for various reasons.  The most important thing for a survivor is to regain autonomy and a sense of control over his/her life.  Therefore options should be presented to him/her without pushing or persuading him/her in a particular direction.

And the Tufts policy says that the University will support the survivor in best utilizing various resources (or in their own words, “remedies”) after their assault.  However, it fails to mention what the resources are.  So how are survivors supposed to know what they can do if they aren’t presented with various routes they can take?

Sadly, the other written material that Tufts has about its sexual assault policy and procedures in the Judicial Handbook only gets more vague.



6 responses

2 04 2009

You should suggest that Elaine, Susan, and BARCC be added to the top of the list. Wherever these lists are available, whether online or in print, etc., I don’t think it would be met with issue if you/helpful others offered advice as to change it and contacted the appropriate people.

2 04 2009

“I don’t think it would be met with issue if you/helpful others offered advice as to change it and contacted the appropriate people.”

If only it were that simple…

On the contrary, the whole issue of reforming Tufts’ sexual assault policy has been met with a lot of resistance from the administration for quite some time now. There have been people who have been trying to point out the flaws in the sexual assault policy in order to improve it, but the administration has not been as receptive as we’d like them to be.

People need to get over their naive assumption that the Tufts administration is a warm, loving body of open arms who will change their policies just because people offer advice. Policies do not change out of the goodness of people’s hearts. Policies change because people apply pressure to the administrators and make them change.

13 04 2009

It looks like the police numbers are all for TUPD, not “local police departments.” The first one is decidedly x7-3030 for the Medford campus. The information is not presented well, though — I did a double-take when I first read it.

Also interesting is that the Medford number given is the non-emergency number. Perhaps the “emergency” description is reserved for crime-in-progress?

13 04 2009

Thanks for your feedback Michael. If you are interested in learning more about Tufts’ sexual assault policy and Tufts’ response to sexual violence on campus, we strongly encourage you to come to the Sexual Violence Community Forum on Thursday April 23rd at 7pm in the Metcalf Lounge. Students, members of the administration, and staff will get together to discuss sexual violence on campus. Come to just listen and learn or come with questions.

14 07 2009
Colleges and universities are legally responsible for preventing sexual assault « The Gender Blender Blog

[…] sexual assault policies that actually work and are implemented before (see here, here, here, here, here, and here for a taste), so here’s some relevant news.  The National Association […]

30 09 2009
Tufts University, You, Your Partner, and Your Roommate | Change Happens: The SAFER Blog

[…] more than anything, this rubs me the wrong way because of the sorry state of Tuft’s Sexual Assault Policy. As a writer at the Tufts University Survivors of Rape and Sexual Assault said: Hmmm…you know […]

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