On Tuesday, the Minnesota Student Association passed a resolution in support of updating the University of Minnesota’s sanction policy on sexual assault. As reported in the Minnesota Daily last week, MSA wants to ensure harsher sanctions are imposed on campus by making suspension or expulsion the minimum penalty for assault, rather than the maximum.
Under the current rules, sexual assailants sometimes receive academic probation or essay-writing as punishments for their actions.
The University’s Student Conduct Code specifies a range of possible sanctions depending on the type, severity and impact of a punishable action. The Conduct Code states that suspension or expulsion may be appropriate for sexual assault punishment, though they may not be common forms of discipline.
This discussion is particularly relevant given the current focus on sexual assault at the University and nationwide. Updating sanctions to reflect the seriousness of sexual assault crimes is one of the more realistic ways to handle the problem of sexual violence.
Other states, including South Dakota, are considering laws that would allow concealed firearms on college campuses, arguing that assault will be less likely if potential victims have guns with them.
We think the considerable drawbacks of allowing guns on a college campus make concealed firearms a poor solution. Enforcing harsher penalties for sexual assault is, however, a viable and appropriate response to the problem. We encourage a review of current policy to determine how University sanctions can better respond to sexual assault cases.