President Hennessy has signed the Alternate Misconduct Review Process, a plan developed by the Board on Judicial Affairs that changes the way sexual assault cases are handled at Stanford.
The new plan, a pilot that will be assessed in fall 2011, makes the process for hearing accusations of rape, harassment, dating violence and stalking among students faster and more private, said a board member.
The draft of the plan sent to Hennessy was made available on the board’s Web site, where the board began posting public minutes for the first time earlier this year.
Among the most significant changes to the current process is the elimination of the requirement that alleged victims and suspects attend the same panel hearings during a case and, in some instances, answer questions about the alleged misconduct in each other’s presence.
That feature of the current process has been derided by board and community members alike for serving as what they call a deterrent to victims to pursue cases against their attackers at Stanford.
“The current system is broken,” said Tommy Tobin ’10, a board member and judicial panelist. “This is a step in the right direction.” He said the board’s approval of the plan on April 6 was not unanimous.
Board President Nate Chambers described the rigor of the year-long discussions leading to the board’s approval of the plan on April 6.
“This pilot program has gone through intense analysis and is the result of a long and open discussion between both faculty and students,” Chambers wrote in an e-mail to
The Daily. A graduate student in computer science, Chambers became board president spring quarter after past president Ben Davidson, a law student, graduated.
“Students who serve as judicial panelists, faculty and Board members were part of the group” to develop the initial proposal, Chambers said.
Hennessy emphasized on Tuesday that the program is a pilot, which means the board will decide in fall 2011 whether or not it should continue.
Board and community members, including some who gave input on the alternate process this year, acknowledge that the number of sexual assaults that occur on campus each year probably far exceeds the number of cases pursued in Judicial Affairs to hold accused students responsible.
The Office of Judicial Affairs oversaw 123 cases involving accusations ranging from academic cheating to sexual assault during the 2008-2009 academic year. One sexual misconduct case, which typically constitutes a Fundamental Standard violation, was heard in fall 2008, the most recent quarter for which statistics are publicly available.