In a recent editorial (BDN, April 9), Bates College was criticized for coddling criminal behavior when one of its students is involved.
Bates does not condone or protect criminal behavior. If any student brings to the attention of the College an episode or event violating the criminal code prohibiting sexual harassment, assault or rape, the student is vigorously encouraged to contact police authorities in order to bring charges.
The law requires that the individual victimized must bring the charges. Within 24 hours after college officials were informed that victims would bring charges, the formal processes were begun, and the college notified the Lewiston city administrator who shared the information with the police department.
In addition to the laws that govern all of us, the college, as a community itself, upholds a code of conduct for its students that (while consistent with criminal code) prohibits behavior that is deleterious to the campus community. That is why the college encourages a victim to bring charges within the campus judicial system as well. It is a separate, but not exclusive alternative; both systems can and often do go forward.
Students and the local community should know that when criminal violations occur, the college wants violators to receive fair and just treatment under existing law, not special treatment because students are involved.
The U.S. criminal justice system works for all of us. However, it becomes involved only when a victim — either from the community or college — decides to file charges. Larry Johnson Director of security and campus safety Bates College Lewiston