Symposium: Sexual Assault and Academic Freedom on College Campuses

October 14th, 2016
Hart Auditorium, GULC

Sponsored by :
The Journal of Legal Education
Georgetown University Law Center
Georgetown Gender Justice Initiative

Universities occupy a hallowed position in American culture. But numerous studies showing high rates of sexual assault on college campuses, as well as several well-publicized incidents, have spurred not only a wave of well-justified concern about our students’ safety, but also new and more rigorous policies for addressing these assaults, in universities and colleges across the country. While the importance of protecting students from violence is unquestioned, these new policies call for consideration of issues such as the appropriate role of administrative decision-making, the role of governmental regulations, the need for academic freedom, and the rule of law generally, as experienced on college campuses. How can we best ensure an educational environment free from sexual violence but, at the same time, provide for academic freedom and fair processes? How might we best maintain academic freedom without making it a defensive shield against enforcing equal opportunity requirements within academic life? These and related questions will inform the symposium.
The Conference will bring together both academic administrators and legal scholars in the fields of First Amendment and Fourteenth amendment law, sexualviolence, civil rights, and education law, including, among others, Professor Catherine Ross, from George Washington Law School, Dean Emeritus Joan Howarth from Michigan State Law School, student activist Alexandre Brodsky from Yale Law School, and Associate Dean and Distinguished University Professor Kathy Baker, from Chicago Kent Law School, to discuss and debate these challenges. The conference is keynoted by Hiram Chodosh, current President and Professor of the College, Claremont McKenna College. Scholars will examine and debate the role of the first amendment in protecting offensive speech on campus, the use of “trigger warnings” in the classroom, the impact of new policies regarding both the processing and reporting of complaints on faculty, staff and students, the nature of speech itself in the college context, and both the dangers of sexual assault and the risks to academic freedom and fair process now facing both men and women on college campuses.