Students protesting the University of Portland's handling of rape allegations were surprised to learn early this week that the school had already instituted amnesty for students who report sexual assault, quietly adding that provision ton the student handbook, Willamette Week reports. Previously, students who came forward with an allegation of rape could be punished for underage drinking.
As of January 2009, an amended handbook reads:
"To foster the safety and security of the entire community, the University of Portland encourages reporting of all instances of sexual assault. However, no disciplinary action will be taken without the consent of the survivor. To remove barriers to reporting, the University will not pursue potential policy violations of the survivor which occurred in the context of the sexual assault. Likewise, the University will not pursue potential policy violations of a person who comes forward to report sexual assault."
The handbook change comes months after a female student accused the university of mishandling her rape allegation last year and, in general, making it difficult for students to report assaults.
The accusations from last year have not been the end of Portland's assault-reporting problems. The school is now being sued for $1 million by a female former student who accuses the school of failing to promptly tell police about her rape and responding to subsequent cyberbullying with "deliberate indifference," the Oregonian reports. The university has declined to comment on the litigation. The suit also seeks $1 million from the alleged rapist, as well as $600,000 from three students who she said made "false and defamatory" statements.