Harvard's Date Rape Policy Under Attack

Administrators, students discuss system's problems

Students faced Associate Dean of Co-Education Karen E. Avery '87 to discuss what many perceive as the lack of public information about Harvard's policy on rape and punishment at a panel discussion last night.

In light of recent coverage of sexual assault and rape issues at Harvard, the Harvard Political Union and the Women's Leadership Project sponsored the panel on "Date Rape: Defining Student Behavior and University Policy."

Avery, Alexis B. Karteron '01 of the Coalition Against Sexual Violence (CASV) and Abigail H. Zoba '00, a counselor with Peer Relations and Date Rape Education (PRDRE) spoke to a crowd of about 30 people, including Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III, about the current state of Harvard's policy on rape.

In Zoba's opening statement, she discussed the issues PRDRE covers in workshops with first-years and clarified the difference between the state policy on rape and Harvard regulations.

"Harvard's policy is much more strict," said Zoba, who is also a Crimson photo editor.

"People who are drunk or high are by definition unable to give consent to sex," she said.

Avery said Harvard takes rape very seriously.

"Rape often goes unreported. It's hard for us when we don't know what's out there," she said.

When a student is raped, Avery said, the College encourages the student to go to University Health Service (UHS) or Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital.

At Beth Israel, specialists can per- form rape kits, which allow medical personnelto collect evidence of the rape that can then beused in a trial, whereas UHS does not provide thisservice due to their small incidence of reportedrape cases.

"It's very important to get that counselingsupport, to have someone," Avery said.

She said one of Harvard's biggest efforts interms of rape education is its "Tell Someone"brochure.

"I know a lot of these things end up inrecycling bins, but it's important that we letthem know what's out there," Avery said. "It'sclear people need to know more about resources."

Karteron outlined the goals of the CoalitionAgainst Sexual Violence, which was formed lastFebruary. She said the group aims to increasediscussion of sexual assault on campus, to findHarvard-specific rape statistics and to create awomen's center.

"It's something that would show the Universityis committed to bringing together resources,"Karteron said. "It would address the needs ofwomen in general."

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