NOTE: The article excerpted on this page is from an outside publication and is posted on FIRE's website because it references FIRE's work. The viewpoints expressed in this article do not necessarily represent FIRE's positions.
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 guilty of sexual misconduct, leaving it up to administrators to enforce the policy as they chose,” Greg Lukianoff, president of the Philadelphia-based group, said Wednesday.
The foundation also contended that the policy previously required verbal consent for each stage of a sexual encounter. The policy said that if “either person … does not give continuing and active consent, all sexual contact must cease, even if consent was given earlier.”
The new policy says that effective consent uses “mutually understandable words or actions which indicate a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity.”
Julie Ramsey, vice president for college life, said the changes were made as part of a broader, ongoing review of the college’s student handbook.
“We never consulted with FIRE about whether they liked the changes,” Ramsey said. “If they do, that’s great.”