Gettysburg College: Unjust Sexual Misconduct Policy

Category: Due Process
Schools: Gettysburg College

After more than a year of public pressure from FIRE, Gettysburg College amended its controversial Sexual Misconduct Policy. Gettysburg students are now free from the draconian policy, which failed to distinguish between an innocent, spontaneous hug and forcible rape. The school’s old Sexual Misconduct Policy infringed on students’ rights to due process and fundamental fairness. Despite months of agreeing to undertake an administrative review and revision of the Sexual Misconduct Policy, Gettysburg continued to maintain it. In response, FIRE added Gettysburg to its Red Alert list, where FIRE highlights the “worst of the worst” offenders against liberty on campus. In light of the policy change, Gettysburg was removed from FIRE’s Red Alert list. The original policy’s broad definition of sexual interaction included not only sex acts but also “brushing, touching, grabbing, pinching, patting, hugging, and kissing,” drawing no distinction between innocent hugging and sex crimes.  The revised policy has eliminated the language equating rape with mere hugging.  Instead, it prohibits “[s]exual misconduct, including sexual assault, [which] is defined as deliberate physical contact of a sexual nature without the other person’s consent.”

  • G-burg College revises policy

    August 26, 2007

    Gettysburg College’s sexual misconduct policy, which was criticized by a group called FIRE last year, has been revised. Greg Lukianoff, president of FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said the group took issue with vague wording in the college’s previous sexual misconduct policy, which drew no distinction between a hug and sex crimes. “When colleges pass codes so broad, every student can be found guilty of violating it on a regular basis,” Lukianoff said. “It leaves it up to the discretion of the school to enforce the policy as they chose.” The group, a nonpartisan organization that monitors […]

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  • College revises sexual misconduct policy

    August 24, 2007

    Gettysburg College’s sexual misconduct policy, which was criticized by a group called FIRE last year, has been revised. FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, is a nonpartisan organization that monitors educational institutions and civil rights, said organization President Greg Lukianoff. He said the group took issue with vague wording in the college’s previous sexual misconduct policy drawing no distinction between a hug and sex crimes. “When colleges pass codes so broad, every student can be found guilty of violating it on a regular basis,” Lukianoff said. “It leaves it up to the discretion of the school to enforce […]

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  • College repeals “Hug at your own risk” rule

    August 23, 2007

    You know a way to make it more likely to catch sex offenders? Make the definition of “sex offense” so broad that virtually any physical contact counts as sexual assault. Then whenever anyone is accused of a sex offense the authorities can find them guilty at their discretion. Sure, it means that a good number of innocent people will probably be found guilty of one of the most horrible crimes one person can commit against another, but it definitely would make prosecutions easier! If this sounds problematic to you (and, boy, I hope it does, or else the republic is […]

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  • Gettysburg College revises criticized sexual misconduct policy

    August 23, 2007

    Gettysburg College has revised its sexual misconduct policy more than a year after it was criticized by a nonprofit foundation as being too broad and arbitrary. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which advocates for free speech issues on college campuses, objected to the policy in May 2006 because it listed several actions, including patting, hugging and kissing, as examples of sexual misconduct. Under the new policy, the definition simply defines sexual misconduct as “deliberate physical contact of a sexual nature without the other person’s consent.” “According to the old, ludicrous policy, practically every person at Gettysburg College was […]

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  • Colleges assume unchecked power in sexual consent policies

    June 21, 2006

    You know a possible way to lower the murder rate in this country? Simply declare all 16- to 24-year-olds — the age group that commits the most murders — to be murderers. We wouldn’t have to put this whole population behind bars, mind you, but anytime someone was murdered we could lock up everyone in that age group who had been near the murder scene. After all, they have been declared guilty by virtue of their age. Yes, this may mean that hundreds of thousands of innocent people might go to jail, but such actions would make it more likely […]

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  • The Hug Police Invade Higher Education

    June 9, 2006

    It’s best not to hug anyone at Gettysburg College. At least not unless you want to get charged with sexual misconduct. Maybe Gettysburg administrators didn’t watch enough Care Bears when they were children. Maybe they were victims of drive-by huggings. Whatever their motivation, the result is an overbroad sexual misconduct policy which makes no distinction between rape and a spontaneous hug. The controversial policy, being challenged by the free speech watch-dog group the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), sets the parameters for acceptable sexual contact. There needs to be consent, which it defines as “the act of willingly […]

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  • On campus, an absurd overregulation of sexual conduct

    May 22, 2006

    IN THE EARLY 1990s, in the midst of a national debate about feminism, sexual relationships, and sexual violence, the media discovered an unusual sexual conduct policy at Antioch College, a small liberal arts school in Ohio. The policy, adopted in response to complaints from a group called Womyn of Antioch about not enough being done to stop date rape on campus, mandated explicit verbal consent every step of the way in a sexual encounter — from undoing a button to sexual intercourse. At the time, it elicited a lot of mockery. But while the debate has gone away, the mindset […]

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  • College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy under FIRE

    May 13, 2006

    by Steve Marroni The Evening Sun Both Gettysburg College and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education agree there is a world of difference between a hug and sexual assault. But how to enforce the issue of consent is a point of contention. The organization, which uses the acronym FIRE, is challenging Gettysburg College’s sexual misconduct policy. FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation in Philadelphia that monitors issues such as individual rights, due process and freedom of expression at the nation’s colleges. The crux of the policy, according to college administration, is consent. FIRE says the issue of consent is […]

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  • Sexual-Misconduct Policy is Faulted

    May 12, 2006

    An impulsive hug could land a student in serious trouble at Gettysburg College, or at least that is the interpretation of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which yesterday challenged the school to change its “arbitrary and overbroad” sexual misconduct policy. Most colleges have such policies, but Gettysburg’s is unusual in identifying “physical contact of a lewd type such as brushing, touching, grabbing, pinching, patting, hugging and kissing” as violations. Gettysburg also requires that verbal consent be given before engaging in sexual conduct, reminiscent of a policy at Antioch College in Ohio that became the butt of late-night television […]

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  • This Month in FIRE History: Hug at Your Own Risk

    May 18, 2011

    In light of FIRE’s ongoing efforts to highlight concerns raised by the lowered due process protections mandated by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault, it is fitting to review our 2006 campaign against Gettysburg College’s sexual misconduct policy. The old Gettysburg policy’s draconian restrictions are a key example of how university harassment and sexual misconduct policies provide the opportunity for administrative abuse-something that will be made even more likely under OCR’s newly required “preponderance of the evidence” standard for adjudicating these cases. FIRE became involved at Gettysburg in May […]

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  • No Summer Break for Student Rights

    August 24, 2007

    While students were away for the summer, enjoying beaches and lazy days, the struggle to protect student rights on campus continued. For those just coming back from summer break, here is a review of some of the major student rights cases that you might have missed. Seniors Need Not Sue   In a disappointing decision, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the case of Lane v. Simon that once a student graduates they lack standing to continue a lawsuit. This decision could have dangerous implications, especially for students about to graduate, since it can take years for lawsuits to wind […]

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  • Victory for Fundamental Fairness at Gettysburg College

    August 22, 2007

    GETTYSBURG, Pa., August 20, 2007—After more than a year of public pressure from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), Gettysburg College has amended its controversial Sexual Misconduct Policy. Gettysburg students are finally free from the draconian policy, which failed to distinguish between an innocent, spontaneous hug and forcible rape. “According to the old, ludicrous policy, practically every person at Gettysburg College was guilty of sexual misconduct, leaving it up to administrators to enforce the policy as they chose,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “We are pleased that Gettysburg has at last revised this policy.” FIRE first called for […]

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  • Campus Alert: Hug at your own risk

    May 29, 2007

    Every hour, students at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania commit sexual misconduct. How? No, the student body isn’t made up of sexual predators. It’s because Gettysburg’s sexual-misconduct policy makes even the most innocent student interactions a violation. Gettysburg requires its students to gain consent before sexual interaction. No surprises there: That’s not only the law, it’s common sense. But what isn’t common sense is how Gettysburg defines “sexual interaction” and “consent.” The school’s policy considers “brushing, touching, grabbing, pinching, patting, hugging and kissing” to be sexual interactions. Making matters worse is the fact that Gettysburg requires “verbal,” “continuing” and “active” consent […]

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  • FIRE Letter to Gettysburg President Katherine Haley Will, August 17, 2006

    August 17, 2006

    August 17, 2006 President Katherine Haley Will Office of the President Gettysburg College 300 North Washington Street Gettysburg, Pennsylvania 17325 Sent via U.S. Mail and Fascimile (717-337-6666) Dear President Will: Thank you for your response to FIRE’s April 11, 2006 letter regarding Gettysburg College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy. FIRE writes again today seeking a firm commitment against the use of overbroad language in the school’s policy, which requires “continuing and active” verbal consent for all sexual encounters, including “hugging” and “kissing.” While the attempt at instituting safeguards against sexual violence at Gettysburg College is commendable, the policy’s current phrasing belittles actual […]

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  • Gettysburg College: Hug at Your Own Risk

    May 11, 2006

    GETTYSBURG, Pa., May 11, 2006—Gettysburg College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy is so broad in scope that it draws no distinction between an innocent, spontaneous hug and forcible rape. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is calling for the repeal of this draconian policy, which prohibits most, if not all, of the sexual and even merely affectionate relations that take place on Gettysburg’s campus. “This policy can turn almost any student at Gettysburg into a criminal,” stated FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “In its quest to rid the college of a social evil, Gettysburg has decided to make everyone guilty, leaving […]

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