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West Point sets aside day to confront sexual harassment

February 25, 2019

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — West Point suspended classes Monday so cadets could help address the persistent problem of sexual assault and harassment at the academy.

U.S. Military Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams ordered a full-day “stand-down” at the academy weeks after a Pentagon survey reported an increase in sexual assaults and harassment. Williams said results of the survey were “unacceptable.”

“Sexual assault and harassment have no place at West Point or in our Army,” Williams said in a prepared release. “It erodes readiness and the trust required to build cohesive teams and is contrary to West Point ideals and Army values.”

The day was to include an address by Williams to cadets, faculty and staff, facilitated discussions about behavior and culture at West Point and talks about possible solutions.

Samantha Ross, program manager for the academy’s response to sexual harassment and assault, said the focus will be on analyzing why sexual violence occurs and what each individual can do to create a better environment.

A Pentagon survey released last month found that the number of students at the Army, Navy and Air Force academies saying they experienced unwanted sexual contact increased by nearly 50 percent over the 2016 survey and that more than half of the incidents involved alcohol.

Sexual assaults at West Point increased from 43 in the 2016-2017 school year to 48 in 2017-2018. Sexual harassment — against both men and women — also increased at the academy.

West Point also is reviewing the access to alcohol at the academy.

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