Sexual Assault at Amherst College
Last week, a brave former Amherst student named Angie Epifano recounted the circumstances of a sexual assault that took place her freshman year in an article published in the college’s newspaper The Amherst Student. Angie wrote candidly about the devastating emotional consequences of sexual abuse, and criticized Amherst’s policies and actions to address the situation. Angie’s story has since spread across the internet, and prompted additional accounts of unreported sexual violence on the Amherst campus to surface.
In response to Angie’s article, Amherst President Biddy Martin issued a statement acknowledging that the administration’s response to sexual violence on campus was unacceptable and needed to change immediately. She identified the need to review and make changes to Amherst’s Title IX and sexual misconduct policies.
We’re glad that Amherst is addressing sexual violence on campus. But we know that there are no easy, overnight fixes that can undo the damage that’s been done. While laws such as Title IX and the Clery Act shape how administrators address sexual violence, we need universities and colleges to go beyond what is legally required of them. We need them to develop well-rounded, collaborative policies that not only support survivors through the healing process after the abuse has taken place, but also to change campus norms to foster a culture that does not tolerate abuse.
This past year, we developed guidelines for preventing and responding to gender-based violence in higher education. We hope that Amherst administrators will take a look and begin making real changes.