Under Pressure, Rutgers Changes Its Sexual Harassment Policy


Rutgers University has taken quick action to change its policy on investigating sexual harassment complaints. The impetus?  A recent newspaper report published in NJ.com that revealed that the college had refused to consider complaints that exceeded a two-year time limit.

Between 1999 and 2009, a doctoral student was sexually harassed by a professor in his office. The student discovered that other female students had also been targeted by him, but she did not file a complaint at that time.

However, the #MeToo movement emboldened the former student and she filed a formal complaint against the professor with Rutgers this past February. The reply from the head of Rutgers’ Office of Employment Equity that was sent to the stunned victim stated that the university doesn’t usually investigate sexual misconduct complaints that are more than two years old.

The university didn’t even notify the professor of the complaint against him. He has no memory of the incident and doesn’t believe that he did anything wrong.

Rutgers Defended Its Prior Policy

Rutgers’ human resources department stated that the former policy was consistent with New Jersey’s two-year statute of limitations in sexual harassment law. The policy’s language was flexible enough to allow for investigations of older cases, but only where there were evidence and witnesses to support the claim.

However, a survey of New Jersey’s other public four-year colleges showed that they do not have any kind of time limit on sexual harassment complaints.

New Policy Does Away With Time Limits

The school will now immediately investigate all sexual harassment complaints. The president of the university also called for an evaluation of the complaint office to make sure that it has enough resources and is adequately staffed.

According to the university president, the old policy was “inconsistent” with Rutgers’ practices and values.

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