The issue is far from new at American colleges; complaints about how they handle sexual misconduct have been going on for so long they have generated a backlash. While many women said colleges had not been taking assault complaints seriously, some schools were criticized for overreacting, and in September, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced she was revising government policy to, among other things, give accused students more rights.
Two weeks later, the first explosive report about Harvey Weinstein was published, and before long colleges found themselves confronting the problem anew.
Stanford University said it was reviewing allegations against Franco Moretti, a professor emeritus, after a blog post by a former graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley.
“He was cool. He was hip,” Kimberly Latta, a psychotherapist in Pittsburgh, wrote last month in a post titled “What Happened at Berkeley in 1985.”
“I was 25 and very naïve.”
She accused Mr. Moretti, then a visiting professor in comparative literature, of raping her when she was a graduate student — allegations he has denied.
“I was just inspired by all the women coming forward about Harvey Weinstein,” Ms. Latta said in an interview, explaining why she had decided to go public. “People are believing these women. Maybe they’ll believe me, too.”
In an email, Mr. Moretti, who is now in Europe, said that the encounter was consensual and that he was “horrified by the allegations.”
At the University of Virginia, three former students filed complaints last month against John Casey, a writing professor who won the 1989 National Book Award for his novel “Spartina.”
One student, Emma Eisenberg, who received her master’s in creative writing in 2014, claimed that Mr. Casey repeatedly touched her and other female students on their “shoulders, buttocks and lower backs and made sexual and gender-based comments,” according to a university document.
In an email, Ms. Eisenberg explained why she was coming forward now.
“In my gut I knew there was something wrong about those experiences, but it was so openly talked about within the program that I figured I was overreacting,” she said. “Seeing this recent flood of women coming forward confirmed what I had always…