Title IX Coordinator Explains Important Aspects of College's New Interim Sexual Assault Policy

On the first day of classes, the College's interim Title IX Coordinator, Patricia Flaherty Fischette, outlined in a message to the community some of the changes set forth in the College's new interim sexual assault and harassment policy. Significantly, she explained the College's Title IX obligations, the confidential resources that are available to victims/survivors, who on campus must refer incidents of sexual assault or harassment to her, and what occurs once a referral is made.

"Ultimately, it is our goal to shatter the silence surrounding sexual assault, but we respect and support the fact that for each victim, breaking the silence is an individual choice," says Fischette. "Our commitment is to identify - and remove where possible - barriers to reporting that are within our control, and to provide support and information to assist with personal or societal barriers." Complete message to the community.

In July, President Rebecca Chopp offered a preview of the College's new policy when she shared with the community an interim report [pdf] from Margolis Healy Associates (MHA), the firm hired by the College to conduct a careful and thorough review of all of the College's sexual assault policies and procedures. Based on MHA's interim report, and in consultation with the College's internal task force, the College took several immediate actions, including creating a full-time position of Title IX coordinator, reporting directly to the President; formed a group of Title IX deputy coordinators to support the work of the Title IX coordinator; and expanded programming for sexual misconduct education and prevention. Additional key steps, such as hiring an advocate for survivors, a hearings advisor for respondents, and an additional investigator in Public Safety, among others, are underway. Complete list of action steps.

MHA will return to campus later this month to conduct additional meetings with students, faculty, and staff members, in both group and in one-on-one sessions. Later this fall, they will issue their final report, which will provide more detailed recommendations meant to serve the College well into the future.