Sexual misconduct allegations spark dialogue at Colby

Posted Dec. 08, 2011, at 7:50 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 27, 2012, at 2:02 p.m.

WATERVILLE, Maine — Amid unspecified allegations of sexual misconduct on campus, Colby College is engaged in an open dialogue with students about how to deal with sexual harassment and assaults, according to spokeswoman Ruth Jacobs.

On Nov. 6, the college started investigating the allegations, Jacobs said Thursday. Ten days later, only two students had come forward to provide evidence to investigators, according to an article in the student-run newspaper, The Colby Echo.

“An investigation was launched immediately following the allegations,” said Jacobs, Colby’s associate director of communications. She declined to detail the allegations.

On Nov. 15, the college held an open dialogue with students regarding sexual harassment and assaults. The event drew 500 students, said Jacobs.

Jacobs said a similar discussion will take place next semester, but no date has yet been set.

“Waterville police were notified as a matter of protocol, but they’re under no obligation to investigate,” she said, adding that the matter is being handled by the Student Affairs Division at Colby.

Amid the allegations, the Student Government Association decided not to send a fan bus to Bowdoin College in Brunswick on Nov. 12 to support the Colby football team, according to the Echo.

“Privacy laws prohibit us from talking about an individual or group that might be involved,” Jacobs said.

And Colby’s head football coach, Ed Mestieri, resigned on Dec. 2 after eight years in that position. He was a part of the team for 23 years in all.

Jacobs said Mestieri resigned for personal reasons and wouldn’t comment on whether the allegations and Mestieri’s resignation were related.

Mestieri could not be reached for comment early Thursday evening.

According to the college’s Student Handbook, victims of sexual assault have several options in reporting allegations.

“The College offers both informal and formal resolution options. Colby seeks to follow the complaining party’s wishes as to which procedure to pursue. Colby believes that students should retain the right to move forward (or not) with a complaint about sexual assault and leaves the decision to the student,” reads the handbook.

Once a complaint is filed, the dean’s office begins an inquiry into the allegations, according to the handbook.

“Cases of sexual assault, harassment, or other sexual misconduct are adjudicated through a Sexual Misconduct Hearing. To protect the privacy of the student[s] involved, only the faculty and staff members of the Student Conduct Board participate in Sexual Misconduct hearings.

“Students found responsible of sexual assault, harassment, or other sexual misconduct are subject to sanctions including suspension or expulsion,” reads the handbook.

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