Posted August 6th, 2019.
In a historic partnership seeking to enact meaningful change, Dartmouth College and the Plaintiffs named in a Title IX class action lawsuit pending in New Hampshire federal court announced today that they have reached a settlement, subject to the approval of the Court.
Plaintiffs Kristina Rapuano, Vassiki Chauhan, Sasha Brietzke, Annemarie Brown, Andrea Courtney, Marissa Evans, Jane Doe, Jane Doe 2, and Jane Doe 3 said in their joint statement, “We are satisfied to have reached an agreement with Dartmouth College, and are encouraged by our humble contribution to bringing restorative justice to a body of Dartmouth students beyond the named plaintiffs. We remain committed to bringing survivor perspectives and community voices to the forefront of the conversation surrounding campus climate. Together with Dartmouth, we plan to continue addressing the systemic roots of power-based personal violence and gender-based discrimination across all levels of severity so that our experiences—and those of the class we represent—are never repeated.”
Steven J. Kelly, class counsel and the head of Sanford Heisler Sharp’s National Criminal/Sexual Violence Practice Group, said, “In more than 30 years fighting for victims, I have never seen a case in which so many brave victims united to engage in such a real dialogue with an educational institution to enact meaningful reforms to protect students. I commend both the Plaintiffs and Dartmouth College for their willingness to enter into this historic partnership.”
Dartmouth President Philip J. Hanlon expressed gratitude that the women “courageously came forward alongside other students to bring to my administration’s attention a toxic environment created by three former tenured professors, who will never set foot on this campus again. I cannot express strongly enough my deep disappointment that these individuals violated their positions of trust to these, and other, students and members of our community. Their conduct flies in the face of Dartmouth’s mission and core values. That is why my colleagues and I moved to revoke their tenure. Through this process, we have learned lessons that we believe will enable us to root out this behavior immediately if it ever threatens our campus community again.”
Provost Joseph Helble, who participated in three days of discussions with the women, added, “These current and former students not only brought to light the completely unacceptable behavior of these three individuals in one department, but, through their courage, also led to our launching – and now with their help, expanding – initiatives to address issues of sexual misconduct and power imbalances here, and we hope over time on other campuses as well. Providing a safe, secure, and supportive environment is critical to our educational objectives; and, with the help of these strong and creative women, we will get there.”
The terms of the settlement will be made public and filed in the federal court in Concord, and will appear on Dartmouth’s website and Sanford Heisler Sharp’s website. The settlement, which is subject to the Court’s approval, includes a monetary component of $14MM, and defines a settlement class comprising all students who meet certain criteria and who certify that they endured a hostile environment created by the conduct of the three banished professors. The settlement includes specific initiatives funded by the College, under the aegis of the College’s Campus Climate and Culture Initiative, to identify and rectify current problems and prevent future issues.
Steven J. Kelly stated, “We are honored to represent the current and former Dartmouth students and the class they represent in bringing meaningful systemic change to one of this nation’s leading institutions of higher education. Dartmouth will be a better institution due to the efforts, vision and moral courage of the nine named plaintiffs.”