On Friday, the News reported that Saifullah Khan ’19, the Yale undergraduate who was found not guilty of sexual assault against a Yale student in March, allegedly assaulted another person in June. Yet despite some students’ growing concerns about the threats Khan’s presence poses to their safety on campus, it remains unclear whether the new allegation will have any impact on his standing at Yale.
In a series of interviews this summer, Jon Andrews — who is not a member of the Yale community — told the News that Khan sexually assaulted him during a threesome and physically attacked him on two other separate occasions. In early August, Andrews attempted to file a complaint against Khan with the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct. However, Yale officials informed him that the University has no jurisdiction over misconduct that does not take place on campus or at a Yale-sponsored event, unless the accuser is a current or former member of the Yale community.
Still, at the request of Provost Ben Polak, Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun or under his own initiative, University President Peter Salovey could bring the case to Yale’s highest disciplinary body — the University tribunal — according to Yale’s website.
All seven students interviewed by the News following the release of the new allegations said that Khan’s presence on campus made many members of the Yale community feel uncomfortable. Five students added that UWC policies should be reformed to allow the University to investigate and adjudicate on sexual misconduct allegations even when the accuser is not a member of the Yale community and the event does not take place on campus or at a Yale-sponsored event.
“The University has a lot of work to do when it comes to its sexual misconduct policies,” said Valentina Connell ’20, who helped organize Solidarity with Survivors rally in September. “Many of us have to live or take classes with known perpetrators of sexual misconduct. … I think if there were to be a murderer on campus, even if the murderer didn’t hurt a Yale student or kill someone on campus or at a Yale event, the University wouldn’t be okay with their presence.”
Under current UWC policy, any Title IX Coordinator can bring a complaint on behalf of a person who is not a member of the Yale community, as long as the respondent is a current Yale faculty member, staff or student and only if the incident occurred on the Yale campus or in connection with a Yale-sponsored event. Thus, Andrews’ case against Khan lies outside the purview of the UWC.
But according to the University website, the tribunal hears disciplinary cases that the President believes to have “institutional significance for the integrity and values of the University” or “substantial impact within the University.” The regulations do not list any other restrictions to the body’s jurisdiction. Salovey can also bring a case to the tribunal when he determines that the body can “best insure a desired uniformity of disciplinary procedures and penalties.”
Unlike the UWC, the tribunal includes students and faculty nominated by the deans of various schools. Its purview extends beyond the UWC and allows for Yale to investigate cases such as Andrews’, which extend beyond the confines of Yale’s campus and community members.
Salovey declined to comment for this story.
The tribunal panel also recommends sanctions on a respondent. Options include admonition, admonition accompanied by probation, delay in award of a degree, required withdrawal for a stated period of time and expulsion.
In November 2015, Khan was suspended from the University and arrested on charges of sexual assault. At the time, the UWC halted its investigation into the incident until a criminal court ruled on the allegations. Following Khan’s acquittal in March based on the “beyond reasonable doubt” criminal standard, the UWC — which uses a lower standard of evidence in adjudication — reopened its investigation into Khan’s misconduct. Even if Khan was found not guilty, the UWC could conclude otherwise under the “preponderance of the evidence” standard, which only requires that the committee finds the respondent responsible more likely than not.
UWC policy allows students under investigation to continue taking classes while committee proceedings are underway. In early August, Yale notified Khan that the UWC process had been extended till September for a “more thorough investigation,” according to Khan who returned to campus as a senior this fall. The committee has yet to reach a decision on the November 2015 case.
University Title IX Coordinator Stephanie Spangler, Senior Deputy Title IX Coordinator Jason Killheffer, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Melanie Boyd and Dean of Student Affairs Camille Lizarribar did not respond to multiple requests for comment. UWC chair Mark Solomon declined to comment for the story.
In a statement to the News, Chun said he cannot comment on individual UWC cases.
“I can only confirm Yale’s strong commitment to the safety of our students.” Chun said.
Students interviewed by the News said that the administration should respond to the new allegations against Khan.
“Regardless of whether victims attend [Yale], if their abusers are Yale students, it is important for the administration to hear and review these serious allegations,” said Meghanlata Gupta ’21, a former Community Health Educator. “I believe that the UWC should definitely evaluate and incorporate the new allegations against Khan in the ongoing investigation, as it is important for all survivors to be heard and respected.”
According to the Yale College Council’s student life director Grace Kang ’21, the UWC’s inability to respond to the new allegations against Khan demonstrates a need for reform within sexual misconduct policy.
In her meetings with members of Dwight Hall, Unite Against Sexual Assault at Yale and other student organizations, students voiced concerns about the University’s sexual misconduct policies, Kang added.
“You can see that students are not happy on this campus with the policies we already have,” Kang said.
Kang noted that students should be “reassured” that the YCC is working with the University administration to bring changes to the existing policies on sexual misconduct.
According to YCC President Saloni Rao ’20, the council has been meeting with Spangler, Boyd and various student groups to discuss ways to better support survivors of sexual misconduct on campus. While Rao declined to comment on how the University should respond to the new allegations against Khan, she noted that the council has been “examining what kind of culture [the council] promote[s] and should be promoting as a representative student organization on campus.”
According to a 2014 U.S. Department of Justice report, 20 percent of female student rape and sexual assault victims between the ages of 18 and 24 report the offense to the police.
Serena Cho | firstname.lastname@example.org