The College of William and Mary expelled a student for sexual assault last fall for the first time, according to available records.
An expulsion is a primary sanction and is an involuntary separation from the College without possible future enrollment and is noted on a student’s transcript. A student can also voluntarily resign from the College prior to adjudication, which must be approved by the Dean of Students Office and results in the same consequences, according to Associate Dean of Students and Director of Student Conduct Dave Gilbert.
Gilbert said that one student opted for a permanent resignation in spring 2013. That student was also investigated for sexual assault, which the College defines as non-consensual intercourse or fondling.
Health Outreach Peer Educators President Mariah Frank ’17 said that, while it is disheartening that there was an incident of sexual assault requiring expulsion, the administration’s actions are a step in the right direction.
“Prevention is one end of the spectrum and it is the area about which HOPE aims to educate the William and Mary community,” Frank said in an email. “Adjudication is the other end of spectrum for which the administrators in the Dean of Students office and other offices are responsible. After such a long time, it is really good to see that our views of zero tolerance for sexual assault at William and Mary are beginning to line up and reflect each other.”
Students can also be permanently dismissed for Honor Code violations, which most often consist of lying and plagiarism. Since 2000, there have been 15 expulsions due to Honor Code violations and 13 permanent resignations. Gilbert noted that sexual assaults are a historically underreported crime around the country.
“One of our goals in recent years, including a key priority and recommendation of last year’s Task Force, has been to provide our campus more awareness, more education, and more resources on how and where to report these crimes,” Gilbert said in an email. “We have seen a difference, including a significant increase in reported cases.”
One of our goals in recent years, including a key priority and recommendation of last year’s Task Force, has been to provide our campus more awareness, more education, and more resources on how and where to report these crimes,” Gilbert said in an email.
From 2011 to 2014, there were 107 reports of sexual harassment and misconduct according to the Title IX report compiled by the Title IX and Dean of Student’s offices. Title IX data from fall 2011 to April 2016 show 69 reports of sexual assault. There have been 39 reports of forcible sexual assault since 2002 according to Clery Act data, which is less comprehensive than the Title IX data. The Clery Act crime statistics only pertain to College controlled property and, prior to 2014, only differentiated between forcible and non-forcible sex offenses. Title IX data encompass all students, faculty and staff, regardless of location. Gilbert reviewed College records dating back to 2000 and said he found no other instances of permanent dismissals for sexual-assault-related violations. He said earlier records were not maintained using databases and are thus not readily available, nor could he confirm that they are complete.
A 1991 Washington Post article reported former College Vice President of Student Affairs Sam Sadler ’64, M.Ed. ’71 as confirming that one student had been expelled for sexual assault between 1989 and 1991, but Chief Communications Officer Brian Whitson said that after speaking with him, Sadler could not confirm the information referenced in the article was true, due to the 25 years that have passed.
Suspensions are the most common sanction for sexual assault. Of the Title IX data from fall 2011 to spring 2015, eight of the nine students found responsible for a policy violation were suspended. According to Gilbert, suspensions typically last through at least the graduation of the survivors. To be allowed to return to the College, the suspended student must have a reinstatement hearing that will determine whether they can return to campus and what kind of conditions might be attached. Suspension notations on transcripts are removed once the student has completed the suspension.
As for other Virginia universities, Christopher Newport University, which had a fall 2015 enrollment of just fewer than 5,200 students, has expelled eight students since 2001 for sexual assault violations. Virginia Tech, with a fall 2015 enrollment of 30,000 students, had permanently dismissed four students between 2009 and 2015. Radford University, with 9,700 students enrolled, has expelled three students for sexual misconduct since 2011. According to a 2014 Daily Progress article that looked at data since 1998, the University of Virginia had not expelled any students for sexual assault. U.Va administrators did not respond for comment to a request for comment.
16(IX)3 Co-founder Abbey Childs ’17 said that the lack of expulsions at the College baffles her.
“We’re all fortunate enough to be at William and Mary, and if you continue to violate that community of trust and violate — literally — another person, at a certain point it’s too much,” Childs said. “I think the fact that the administration finally decided, ‘Here’s our hard line,’ … the fact that they’ve taken a stand in some case, that’s a really promising sign.”
We’re all fortunate enough to be at William and Mary, and if you continue to violate that community of trust and violate — literally — another person, at a certain point it’s too much,” Childs said.