Duke University: Overbroad and Unjust Sexual Misconduct Policy


Duke University

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

In 2009, Duke University implemented a new sexual misconduct policy that could render a student guilty of non-consensual sex simply because he or she is considered “powerful” on campus. The policy said that students are able to unintentionally coerce others into sexual activity through “perceived power differentials” and requires Duke employees to report alleged misconduct regardless of the alleged victim’s wishes. On March 4, 2010, FIRE wrote to Duke to request that Duke reevaluate its sexual misconduct policy with the goals of reaching a reasonable definition of consent and producing a process that is as fair as possible to all parties. On April 5, Duke responded that it would consider FIRE’s concerns while reviewing the policy, and the offending provisions were later quietly removed from the policy.