Title IX Updates

May 15, 2018

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Last Wednesday, a group of student survivors of sexual misconduct or assault and their allies ended their nine-day sit-in in the offices of the Dean’s Division. Prior to the sit-in, this group of students, Organizing for Survivors (O4S), held a number of public events as well as small group conversations to address student concerns about the ways the College investigates and adjudicates sexual misconduct cases.

Since the Title IX office was created in 2014, the College has made considerable progress in implementing fair, equitable, and comprehensive sexual misconduct policies for all community members and providing healthy relationships education. Still, as we have in the past, we continue to evaluate our processes and policies to ensure that they are responsive to evolving best practices and to the needs of our students, staff, and faculty.

As we move ahead, dialogue and open communication will continue to be crucial to our ability to create a healthy and nurturing community. I remain committed to working with O4S and all members of our community to create a campus environment free of sexual assault, violence, and harassment.

On Wednesday afternoon, I met with the core students of O4S, three faculty members, and five staff members to discuss the demands from their original list and to determine collaboratively how best to continue the important work of making our campus safe, fair, and just. The outcomes of our first meeting can be found here and below.

I would like to acknowledge the work of members of O4S and their allies. You have called for improvements to the student experience of the Title IX process. I want you to know that we hear you and are committed to working with you to ensure a just and equitable community.  

I also want to recognize and commend our staff and faculty members who continue to serve as resources for our students and each other during this difficult time. I especially thank staff in the Dean’s Division for continuing to support both students and fellow colleagues during the sit-in; I thank the staff of EVS and Public Safety for ensuring the cleanliness and safety of our environment; and I thank faculty members who have served as sources of support both inside and outside of the classroom.

I will be meeting again with this group of students, faculty, and staff today to continue the work of our first meeting and look forward to providing community members with additional updates.  

Sincerely,

Valerie Smith

 

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Included are the outcomes from the first meeting.  The original demands we discussed are in bold-face type, followed by the highlights of our discussion.


Swarthmore will provide clarification and make public the training requirements for investigators, relevant staff, and external adjudicators and ensure that such training is trauma-informed and sensitive to the needs of queer and non-binary students. The college will prohibit inappropriate and victim-blaming questions at all points during the investigative process and hold staff members who engage in these lines of questioning accountable.

Status: Resolved; not yet implemented
Timeline: By September 2018

  • The College will publicize information about trainings for employees who are part of the Title IX process, including: type of training, learning outcomes, curriculum, and content as available. This information will be added to the SHARE website.
  • The Title IX Coordinator will establish and publicize an ongoing feedback mechanism to be used in the event that students have questions about staff/faculty training or a perceived failure in effectively using their training.
  • The Title IX Office will create additional feedback mechanisms (e.g. surveys, etc.). In-person feedback with the TIX Coordinator and/or case managers, as well as additional forms of feedback, will be regularly evaluated and altered as necessary, by the TIX Coordinator to ensure inclusivity and accessibility.
  • The Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Students, who oversees the proceedings, will be trained and has the responsibility to intervene in adjudicative processes when they believe that any question or line of questioning is not sensitively explained and/or required for the clarification of factual information and could be considered victim-blaming and/or insensitive to queer or non-binary individuals.

Status: Resolved; not yet implemented
Timeline:  By May 2019

  • Swarthmore will require and hold specific and ongoing trauma-informed training sensitive to the needs of queer and non-binary students for employees involved in the Title IX processes.  

Swarthmore will limit the length of all in-person procedures, such as investigative interviews, not to exceed a few hours.

Status: Resolved; not yet implemented
Timeline: By September 2018

The following will be added to the College’s written Title IX procedures:

  • A clear definition of what a “break” is for parties involved within an in-person TIX proceeding (e.g. adjudication meetings, investigative interviews), a formal adjudication proceeding, and what the break entails;
  • A statement specifying that adjudicators and administrators involved in the process will be informed to understand and implement the practice of taking breaks.
  • A fixed time limit (a specific number of hours per day--the number to be determined) for all in-person TIX proceedings (e.g. adjudication meetings, investigate interviews) formal adjudication processes, which will only be exceeded at the request of the respondent and/or complainant and with the agreement of both parties;    
  • The College commits to ensuring that respondents and complainants will have the option to meet with the Title IX Coordinator and/or other administrative parties (e.g. case managers) prior to the adjudication to clearly discuss their options re: timing and breaks. These needs will then be shared with the relevant participating parties (e.g. external adjudicator).
     

Swarthmore will extend the appeal window to allow adequate time for survivors to acquire additional advice and support.

Status: Resolved; not yet implemented
Timeline: By September 2018

  • Respondents and complainants will be given 5 days to appeal the determination. The Dean’s window for responding to an appeal will be shortened from 5 days to 3 days in order to conserve the overall time of the process.

Swarthmore will mandate specific, formal behavioral change and counseling programs for all perpetrators found responsible--including those previously found responsible who still attend or will return to Swarthmore College. Returning to school and remaining in school will be contingent on the respondent’s successful completion of such a program, and continued enrollment in such a program if deemed necessary by the program’s professionals at the time of re-enrollment.  

Status: Ongoing
Timeline: By Summer 2018

  • The incoming TIX Coordinator and Transition team will be charged with the task of exploring whether and how a behavioral change program requirement can be implemented at Swarthmore. Over the summer, the TIX Coordinator and transition team will be asked to assess possible barriers to implementation.

Implementation of new Transformative Justice options, fully funded and staffed by professionals well-versed in the precepts of Transformative Justice.

Status: Ongoing
Timeline: Initial report back to community by end of the Fall 2018 semester

  • The new Title IX Coordinator will be versed in the concepts and practice of Transformative Justice and charged with evaluating the existing remedies-based resolution path in light of the goals of Transformative Justice.
  • The TIX Coordinator and Transition Team will be charged with considering how Transformative Justice will be implemented throughout the Title IX process. (i.e. Which current policies and procedures can be transformed? Will the College create new options centered around transformative justice models?)
  • Based on a review of new and already completed research, the TIX Coordinator and Transition Team will write and share a report with the community that outlines a strategic plan addressing timelines and required resources for the future.      

An external review of Public Safety as a whole,  with special attention to the ways in which the office handles Title IX concerns and treats women, students of color, and queer and trans students. This external review will be conducted by qualified external professionals who have experience working with LGBTQ+ individuals and PoC, such as Angela Giampolo or Dolores Huerta.

Status: In Consultation
Timeline: Not yet established

  • President Smith commits to requiring an external review of Public Safety, separate and independent from the IACLEA accreditation process.  The details of this external review process and its timeline were not determined in this meeting.

O4S and student transition team’s ongoing involvement:

  • The Title IX Transition Team, which will consist of a representative set of community members, whose mission will be to use the institutional memory of the College to inform the future vision of the Title IX Office. The Title IX Transition Team will be formed during the Summer 2018.
  • O4S will be represented on the Student Transition Team, which was outlined in Dean Braun’s April 26 email.  Additionally, President Smith has agreed to explore the possibility of early return privileges for members of the Student Transition Team
  • Members of O4S will have an opportunity to meet with the new Title IX Coordinator to discuss implementation of the demands, and policies outlined in this meeting, with the TIX Coordinator, by the middle of September 2018.  (4 Members.) This will be in addition to administrators’ communication with O4S over this coming summer.
  • The Title IX Transition team and TIX Coordinator will report out their meeting discussions on a regular basis. The team will develop a cumulative report which addresses findings, outcomes, and recommendations. The cumulative report will include timeline of the next steps or actions.