Yesterday, Duke University announced that the “preferred sanction” for attackers in cases of sexual assault will now be expulsion. The previous precedent for sexual assault was suspension for three to six semesters. However, this change does not mean that every student found guilty of sexual misconduct will be expelled because the University does not have any minimum sanction requirements.”
President of Duke Student Government Stefani Jones, who helped change the sanction policy, noted that “In the past, the average sanction for similar offenses has been three to four semesters” including summer “which was really insufficient, considering the severity of the violation,” and “What this does, though, is set the standard for the discussion so that expulsion is essentially the rule and suspension is the exception, rather than the other way around.”
This change comes less than a year after Duke agreed to eliminate the statute of limitations on sexual assault misconduct. Until October of 2012, there was a one-year statute of limitations on cases of sexual misconduct.
These changes are also part of a larger movement in higher education to change sexual assault policies to address growing concerns about rape culture on campuses in light of recent legal challenges to universities across the country. The Duke policy decision comes shortly after it was announced that University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will be facing a third investigation into allegations of retaliating against sexual assault survivors.