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Associated Press Story on Gettysburg’s Revamped Policy

The Associated Press is reporting about FIRE’s announcement yesterday that Gettysburg College has finally rewritten its Sexual Misconduct Policy.

The AP writes:

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.

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.”

Since May 2006, we applied more pressure to Gettysburg by adding the school to our Red Alert list, making it one of only three institutions at the time, along with Johns Hopkins and Tufts, designated as especially restrictive on students’ rights. With the revision of the Sexual Misconduct Policy, Gettysburg is no longer one of our Red Alert schools.

The AP article quotes Gettysburg’s Julie Ramsey, vice president for college life, as saying that “the changes were made as part of a broader, ongoing review of the college’s student handbook.” She continued, “We never consulted with FIRE about whether they liked the changes…. If they do, that’s great.”

It is great. But it’s doubtful that Gettysburg would have changed this policy if it weren’t for FIRE’s prompting. Gettysburg maintained the old policy since 2003, and after our letter last fall they responded that they were looking into re-drafting the policy. That pressure only got more intense in recent months, with comparisons between Gettysburg’s policy and Antioch College’s similar policy from the 90s circulating, and with the constant media pressure brought by FIRE that included coverage in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Boston Globe, and the New York Post. But whatever the reasons, FIRE is pleased that Gettysburg has a new policy in place, and students should be too.

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