JCFS to vote on sexual assault definition

The Joint Committee of Faculty and Students is expected to vote on changes in the Student Code of Conduct’s definition of sexual assault, rape and consent in the next month.

Adam Siple, who headed an ad hoc Student Association subcommittee on the subject two years ago, presented a proposal to the JCFS at its Jan. 29 meeting to incorporate rape into the definition of sexual assault.

“Right now rape and sexual assault are mutually exclusive,” said Siple, student chair of the JCFS. “In truth, rape is a form of sexual assault.”

The new definition of sexual assault, if accepted, would include “but is not limited to, inflicting any sexual invasion, including sexual intercourse (rape), or touching of a sexual nature” without the person’s consent.

The proposal also attempts to change the definition of consent; “actual words or conduct indicating a freely given agreement to have sexual intercourse” would be necessary under the new provision.

The proposal recommends preserving the current minimum sanction of “one-year suspension and eviction from residence halls or University owned housing.” Siple said, however, students at the last JCFS meeting said they would like to see expulsion as the minimum. But this aspect will be further debated.

During the past two years, the ad hoc subcommittee of the SA has brought forth other concerns about the sexual assault reporting and victim assistance resources, Siple said. But these issues are not part of the current proposal before the JCFS, which The GW Hatchet wrongly reported in its Feb. 1 issue (“JCFS reviews sexual assault, rape policies,” p. 3).

He said GW administrators and the University Counseling Center have supported the effort in the past two years.

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