Hobart And William Smith Colleges Respond To Critical NY Times Story Regarding Sexual Assault

Jul 13, 2014

Officials at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva are responding to a front page story in The New York Times published Sunday which details a case of alleged sexual misconduct involving an 18 year old freshman.

The article comes after an announcement in May by the U.S. Department of Education which names Hobart and William Smith as among 55 colleges and universities nationwide being investigated over how they handled sexual abuse complaints.

In the article, an 18 year old woman, her name given as Anna, reported that three football players sexually assaulted her at the time that  a fraternity party happened in September of last year. A college disciplinary panel later cleared the players of wrongdoing.

The New York Times article contends that internal records, along with interviews with students, sexual-assault experts and college officials, depict a school that was “ill prepared to evaluate an allegation so serious, that if proved in a court of law, would be a felony…”

An open letter to the Hobart and William Smith community following publication of the Times story states that the colleges disagree with the reporter’s interpretation of events. The college statement believes the article “unfairly portrays the Colleges and belittles the urgency and seriousness with which we address reported violations of our community standards.”

The president of the colleges, Mark Gearan, also released a letter to members of the college community emphasizing that the school has “no tolerance for sexual misconduct and are not reluctant to enforce our community standards and take action.” He says in the past two years, the college has  adjudicated seven sexual misconduct cases resulting in four students permanently removed from the school.

Gearan says Hobart and William Smith is completing an audit of its approach to sexual misconduct and community standards and is expanding an office that will ensure the hearing process is equitable and fair.

Read the informational letter to the HWS community here.

Read President Gearan’s letter here.

View the colleges’ informational website here.