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Sexual Assault Not Contingent on Alcohol

Letters

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

In light of the recent alcohol-related deaths on college campuses, it is encouraging that Deans Harry R. Lewis '68 and Archie C. Epps III have clarified the College's policy on alcohol, and have strongly reasserted that the first priority of this policy is the health and safety of Harvard students (Letter to the Editor, Oct. 24). However, in outlining the policy, the deans, perhaps inadvertantly, have made an illadvised statement concerning sexual violence. They write that sexual assault is one of a number of offenses that "[s]tudents whose judgement has not been impaired by alcohol or drugs rarely commit." This statement has the regrettable effect of marginalizing the experience of individuals whose attackers were completely sober. Disturbingly, it also may potentially help to convince some survivors of sexual assault that, since the attacker was not drunk, it must not have been sexual assault in the first place. While it may be true that reported cases of sexual assault at the College often involve alcohol, perfectly sober people commit acts of sexual violence every day. I sincerely hop that the Deans' statement does not prevent any survivor from seeking and receiving the support she or he deserves.

Mark L. Siegal, Quincy House Resident Tutor,

Adjunct Adviser on Sexual Harassment

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