In its advice, the university’s Committee for Cases of Sexual Intimidation, Aggression and Violence (commissie SIAG) evaluated Dao’s complaint against a fellow student. Dao alleges that he sexually assaulted her when she was staying over at his place. In March of this year, the Vietnamese IBCoM student launched a petition that called on the university to issue an injunction barring the student from campus. This way, Dao would no longer have to run into him.
The committee’s advice makes clear that SIAG does not view the accused student’s behaviour as sexually transgressive. This advice was formally adopted by the Executive Board.
Student no longer obliged to share classes with alleged assaulter
A petition that was signed 2,400 times moved the Erasmus School of History, Culture and…
The committee has heard both Dao and the accused student. There were a number of discrepancies between their respective statements, e.g. where Dao was touched exactly by her fellow student. According to Dao, she was sleeping when the student started touching her, at which point she shifted away from her assailant and subsequently ‘froze up’. The accused student did not observe any negative response on Dao’s part. The committee concluded that Dao did not make clear that she did not want the accused student to touch her.
The discrepancies between the students’ statements amount to nuances and are of secondary importance according to commissie SIAG. In addition, the complaints committee has taken the fact on board that Dao posted about the alleged assault on social media and contacted the press about her petition. According to the committee, Vietnamese community and common friends would be able to deduce the identity of the alleged assailant from Dao’s descriptions. In the committee’s view, Dao’s public statements have been damaging to the accused student.
The aforementioned media exposure also informed the committee’s decision to deny Dao access to the accused student’s statement. The student did not feel free to make a statement to the committee if Dao was allowed to review it.
Dao’s lawyer Peter Schouten disagrees with the committee’s advice and the Board’s ensuing decision. “These aren’t nuances, but major disparities.” According to Schouten, Dao claims that she has been assaulted, while her fellow student explicitly denies the offence of which he has been accused. “According to the committee, this behaviour cannot be considered sexually transgressive. But for sake of clarity: we’re not talking about transgressive behaviour here, but about a criminal offence: the sexual assault of someone who was sleeping. In addition, the accused admitted in a Facebook post: ‘I’ve always disliked assailants, and now I’m one myself.’”
Commissie SIAG takes a different view. In the committee’s understanding, the student posted the Facebook message in question by way of apology: it does not amount to a confession to the alleged assault.
Schouten plans to appeal the Executive Board’s decision. That is why he has applied for a provisional ruling that would yet allow the claimant to review the report of the hearing with Dao’s fellow student. Moreover, Schouten does not agree that Dao’s actions have affected the student’s privacy. “At no point has she shared the identity of the accused – be it in her petition or on social media.”
Sexual abuse among students: where does the university fit in?
What measures can a university take if there's a matter of sexual violence? What steps…