Interim Sexual Assault and Harassment policy and Revised Student Handbook

Dear Students,

I am writing to share with you the updated Student Handbook for 2013-2014. The Student Handbook exists to clearly communicate our community standards and policies. This document exemplifies our shared responsibility as community members and articulates the cornerstones of the College including academic freedom and the ability to pursue an education in an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment. Every year we reexamine the Student Handbook, make appropriate changes and alterations, and ask all students to recommit to holding themselves and each other accountable for upholding the standards contained within it.

As a Swarthmore student, it is your responsibility to review and make yourself familiar with the Student Handbook each year.

The 2013-2014 Student Handbook can be found on a new website that was developed in response to feedback we received about the challenges of not having an easily accessible and navigable Handbook. As part of developing this website we have reorganized the content to make it more user friendly. We will also distribute a print version of the Handbook to all students within the next month or so.

Please note that there are numerous changes to the Handbook this year. Some of these changes clarify existing policies and some are new. Many of these changes are a result of student feedback.

I want to draw your attention to our revised Interim Sexual Assault and Harassment policy. As you may know, President Chopp sent a letter to the community on July 18, 2013, which included the interim report by Margolis Healey & Associates (MHA) that suggested we review our policies, along with recommending a number of other implementation steps to be taken immediately.  After carefully reviewing our policies this summer, we have adopted these interim policies for the 2013-2014 academic year . The policy will become effective immediately, and will apply to all open and future cases that come within the scope of the policy.

Highlights of the interim policy include:

  • A centralized process that begins with an initial assessment by the Title IX Coordinator and trained administrators;
  • An expanded Title IX team including the appointment of four Title IX deputies;
  • Extensive training programs including Title IX and how to conduct investigations; An expansion of prevention and educational programming;
  • New hearing procedures for discipline cases involving sexual assault and harassment allowing for an outside adjudicator to hear cases when appropriate;
  • Detailed explanations of reporting options; the difference between confidential resources (CAPS counselors, Worth Health Center staff, and religious advisers) and reporting resources; and guidance about reporting both on and off campus;
  • Discussion of resources, including interim measures and accommodations available to all community members;
  • Clear definitions of sexual harassment and sexual assault and other specific forms of prohibited conduct, including stalking and intimate partner violence;
  • Clear and explicit definitions of consent, coercion, and incapacitation;
  • Explicit time frames for all major stages of investigation and resolution.

The Internal Task Force on Sexual Misconduct will reconvene shortly. Once they do so, and as we prepare to receive the final report from MHA, we will engage with students, faculty, and staff regarding these policies, actively soliciting feedback. With the Task Force guiding some of the conversations, we will also discuss cultural changes we can make to ensure that our campus is always working towards creating a hostile-free environment for all community members.

I also want to note that we have revised the College Judiciary Committee process and our event and party policies.

I welcome your response to these important policies. I look forward to working with you this year to further cultivate the deep sense of shared responsibility we all have towards one another to make Swarthmore an exceptional place in which to live and learn.


Liz Braun
Dean of Students