Title IX Information and Q&A
September 2, 2011
Dear Members of the Swarthmore Community,
Last spring, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education issued new guidance to educational institutions regarding sexual misconduct. Swarthmore revised its sexual misconduct policy accordingly and we urge you to read it very carefully.
Swarthmore College policy strictly prohibits sexual misconduct by any member of the College community. Our shared objective is to take appropriate measures to prevent sexual misconduct from occurring, to investigate reported incidents and adjudicate when appropriate, and to provide support for any members of the community harmed or otherwise impacted by sexual misconduct. By working together as a community, we will continue to strive towards creating a harassment free environment for everyone.
During this academic year, the Equal Opportunity Advisory Committee, comprised of students, faculty, and staff, will be charged with assessing these new protocols and for gathering community input about them. Ultimately, the committee will make recommendations to the dean and the Title IX coordinator regarding the College's sexual misconduct policy.
The Q&A below explains some of these changes in more detail. Please also contact us directly if you have other questions or concerns.
Title IX Coordinator and Director of the Equal Opportunity Office
Interim Vice President for Human Resources
H. Elizabeth Braun,
Dean of Students
This Q&A addresses recent changes to the College's sexual misconduct policy. For more information, please contact Sharmaine LaMar, Title IX coordinator and director of the equal opportunity office, or Liz Braun, dean of students.
What prompted changes to the College's sexual misconduct policy?
Last spring, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education issued new guidance to educational institutions regarding Title IX's applicability to sexual misconduct including sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence. The new OCR guidance specifically focused on ensuring that educational institutions - K-12 as well as colleges and universities - were appropriately responsive to instances of sexual misconduct and allegations of sexual misconduct.
What is Title IX?
Title IX is the prevailing federal legislation that prohibits gender discrimination, including sexual harassment, in educational programs receiving federal financial assistance. Although Title IX is most frequently associated with gender equity in athletics, it applies to all aspects of student life. The goal of Title IX is to create a school environment free from sexual harassment or discrimination. The OCR made it quite clear that sexual assault is a form of sexual harassment and that schools must be proactive in ensuring a safe environment for their students, employees, and visitors.
What should I do if I am the victim of sexual misconduct?
Students and employees who are the victim of sexual misconduct are encouraged to report the incident immediately and seek the support services they need. Complaints may be filed with Public Safety or with Title IX Coordinator Sharmaine LaMar (x5675), the point person for all investigations related to sexual misconduct. Complainants always have the option of pursuing civil or criminal action with law enforcement, the courts or with OCR.
Who is responsible for support services for victims of sexual misconduct?
Swarthmore has been and remains committed to providing a variety of support services to anyone affected by sexual assault and misconduct. Beth Kotarski (bkotars1, x8061), director of health services, is the primary point person for these support services for students. She also serves as the adviser to ASAP (Acquaintance Sexual Assault Prevention) and the SMART team (Sexual Misconduct Advisors and Resource Team). Assistant Dean and Gender Education Advisor Karen Henry, who has led these efforts for many years, will shift her focus this year to her new role as Dean of First Year Students. Staff and faculty members affected by sexual misconduct may contact Carebridge, the College's employee assistance provider, for confidential supportive services at (800) 437-0911 at anytime.
If I talk to someone about sexual misconduct, is it confidential?
If someone requests confidentiality or asks that a complaint not be pursued, the College will take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the incident consistent with the request for confidentiality or request that the matter not be investigated. In considering a request for confidentiality or a request that the investigation not be pursued, the College will consider, among other things, the seriousness of the alleged harassment, the complainant's age, and whether there have been other harassment complaints about the same individuals. Because of the College's independent obligation to ensure an educational environment free from harassment, it cannot guarantee confidentiality under all circumstances.
However, confidential support can be provided to students by staff members in Worth Health Center and Counseling and Psychological Services, the Religious Advisors, and the Alcohol Education and Intervention Specialist. Because these relationships involve privileged conversations, these individuals will not refer your concerns to the director of equal opportunity and Title IX coordinator for investigation unless the victim specifically consents they may do so. Staff and faculty members may contact Carebridge, the College's employee assistance provider, anytime for confidential support.
Who is obligated to report incidents of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator?
Faculty members, members of the Dean's Office and other College staff members, coaches, and Resident Assistants.