May 1, 2018
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
I write to inform you that a group of students from O4S and their allies entered Dean Liz Braun’s office this morning and are remaining there in response to what they describe as a “failure to meet their demands” relating to Title IX policies and procedures.
Let me begin by asserting that we all share a commitment to ensuring that every member of our community is safe from violence of all kinds and able to live, work, and thrive on our campus. We are also committed to providing an environment in which all members of our community are free to perform their work for the College. While we support our students’ freedom of speech, by taking over the Dean’s office they are preventing the Dean and other members of her staff from doing the important work of the College and are thus in violation of student conduct policy.
As I have written recently, we are profoundly committed to improving our Title IX policies and procedures and to making sure that our students are heard and helped in the most sensitive, proactive, and effective ways possible.
To that end, I have included below a message Dean Braun sent to members of O4S on Thursday, April 26. I also note that we are nearing the end of the searches for our new Title IX Coordinator and our Violence Prevention Educator. Committee members are intentionally discussing student concerns with finalists and exploring with them how these issues would inform their work. These key leadership positions will be central to our efforts to uphold and maintain an inclusive campus environment that is free from all forms of discrimination and harassment.
From: H. Elizabeth Braun <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 10:04 PM
Subject: Follow up from our meeting
Thank you for meeting with me last week. I remain committed to working with students, my staff, and the Title IX team to address your concerns, to continue to refine our policies and trainings, and to enhance overall campus climate.
Let me share some of the specific areas I've been working on in conjunction with key partners and provide additional updates that relate to the issues you have raised:
1. I will work with President Smith to create a “student transition team” for the new Title IX Coordinator and Violence Prevention Educator (VPE). Members of this team will ensure that our new colleagues are aware of student concerns, and they will be directly involved in the annual policy review and the review of our adjudication model (including exploring new models and approaches such as the investigative adjudication process and transformative/restorative justice models). This team will also work with the new Title IX Coordinator to update the community on the progress being made.
If O4S members who are returning students are interested in serving on this transition team, please let President Smith or me know. We will identify team members by the end of May so that the new Title IX Coordinator can contact them during the summer.
2. I have held preliminary conversations with supervisors about providing training for all Residential Peer Leaders in the following areas: trauma-informed frameworks; supporting students who have experienced trauma; and self-care strategies for peer leaders who have experienced trauma themselves. We will build these areas into their training for next fall in addition to the training they already receive regarding Title IX and CAPS.
3. I have invited Human Resources and the Provost’s office to partner with me in organizing a series of trainings for faculty and staff focused on trauma-informed frameworks; ways of supporting students who have experienced trauma; and self-care strategies for faculty and staff who have experienced trauma. I am also including Dr. Ramirez as a planning partner and I will be reaching out to colleagues at other institutions for recommendations for trainers, resources, and presenters. If you have recommendations for trainings or other resources, please feel free to share them with me.
4. I have contacted the New Student Orientation planning chairs – Dean Karen Henry, Dean Liz Derickson, and Andrew Barclay -- and asked them to work closely with the new Title IX Coordinator and VPE to coordinate enhanced training and education during New Student Orientation. I have also asked Dean Duncan Smith and Josh Ellow, Alcohol and Other Drug Educator and Counselor, to work with the new Title IX Coordinator and VPE to make sure that their trainings during Orientation are complementary, mutually reinforcing, and trauma-informed.
5. I have contacted Princeton to get more information about their Community Integrity Program and will explore the possibility of initiating a similar program here. Thank you for sharing this example.
6. While not specifically mentioned in your demands, I am aware of concerns that the College lacks enough desirable party spaces to accommodate the needs of the student body. Beginning in the fall we will add two new spaces that students may reserve for parties with or without alcohol. The large gathering space in the renovated Sproul Observatory will be ideal for performances, dinners, and other social activities, and we will pilot using one of the Lodges as another new party space that students will be able to reserve. OSE and the IC, International Student Services, and Interfaith/Office of Religious and Spiritual Life will work with students to promote inclusive, safe party spaces in these new venues.
7. The ad hoc committee on wellbeing, belonging, and social life will present their year-end report to President Smith by July. One section of this report will be dedicated to the concerns, themes, and questions raised in our discussions with various constituencies, including members of O4S, regarding the fraternity houses and Greek Life more broadly. We expect that this summary will help provide the foundation for the committee’s work next year. In addition, I will put together information about the history of Greek Life at Swarthmore and collect reports from similar committees at other institutions that have examined Greek Life systems to help inform the work of next year’s committee.
8. I have also created new eligibility criteria for the resident in each fraternity house for the 2018-2019 academic year. Only students in good standing (not on student conduct probation or suspension) will be allowed to live in the house. If a student’s status changes during the year they will be required to move out. Each resident of the fraternity houses will be required to undergo training related to Title IX, Alcohol and other Drugs, and general safety and security issues. Lastly, the bedroom door must be locked at all times during any registered event at the fraternity house and the resident will not be allowed to have any guests in their room, including other fraternity brothers, during the event.
Thank you again for your continued work to highlight these critical areas. I am invested in and committed to following through on each of the areas listed above, and I know that President Smith will continue to keep you and the community informed about progress on additional areas that she outlined in her original letter to the community.