Response to OSAC Demands
Here is the written response made to OSAC on November 5, 2012. This response was published in the December 5, 2012 edition of the Occidental Weekly.
Dear Campus Community,
Sexual misconduct and violence are a serious national problem from which Occidental is not exempt. Everyone at Oxy shares the same goal: creating a safe, caring, respectful environment for the campus community.
We want to foster a campus culture that rejects sexual violence and helps educate community members about their role in sustaining and perpetuating such an environment. This is a delicate and nuanced topic that requires great attention and care, which is why we continually return to our policies and evaluate best practices.
Members of the Oxy Sexual Assault Coalition (OSAC) advocated for changes to the current sexual misconduct policy through the following list of 12 demands. Our response to those demands, sent to OSAC on November 5, are part of an ongoing dialogue on how to make Oxy a safe place for everyone. We believe it’s important for the entire campus community to understand this response and join in this important dialogue.
And, because it cannot be said enough, let us emphasize that Oxy will not tolerate sexual misconduct. We encourage you to use the resources available to you through the Dean of Students Office, Emmons Student Wellness Center and Project SAFE.
Response to OSAC Demands
1) Remove the automatic appeals language from the sexual conduct policy.
We will remove the right of parties to appeal sanctions.
2) Reinstate consent as verbal consent in the policy.
The College’s current definition of consent reads:
Consent is clear, knowing, and voluntary. Consent is active, not passive. Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable clear permission regarding willingness to engage in (and the conditions of) sexual activity.
Oxy’s definition is based on extensive research and consultation. It mirrors current practice at peer institutions and is based on a model policy developed by the Association of Title IX Administrators.
3) Establish a permanent Sexual Assault Advisory Committee.
A good idea. We will request formal support from the Faculty Council and the ASOC for a campus-wide committee to advise senior administrators, with two members appointed by the president, two members appointed by the Faculty Council, and two members appointed by the ASOC. The Title IX coordinator will be an ex officio member. The committee will play an important role in the iterative process of ensuring current Oxy policies and infrastructure are effective and in monitoring national developments.
4) Return the Title IX coordinator position to faculty.
The faculty have an active role in developing sexual assault policy through the faculty member who serves as one of three deputy Title IX coordinators (current deputies are Irene Girton, Richard Ledwin, and Jaime Hoffman) and works directly with Erica O'Neal Howard, Oxy’s Title IX coordinator and ADA officer. Having an administrator serve in the demanding role of Title IX coordinator (which handles issues other than sexual assault) ensures that he or she is on duty on weekends, holidays, and summers, and avoids conflicts of interest for students. Research shows that this is consistent with current practice at peer institutions. The recent increase in complaints at Oxy suggests that the current structure has encouraged more students to come forward and report cases of sexual misconduct.
5) Inform the campus of all changes to the policy.
From this point onward, the campus community will be informed through Oxy email of all policy changes, regardless of the size or scope of the modification, as soon as the changes are made.
6) Double the size of Project SAFE and give PAs more decision-making authority.
Peer education is one of the most effective tools we have to prevent sexual assault. We are committed to expanding peer education and are looking at the best ways to make that happen.
7 & 8) Use Oxy’s Crime Alert System to inform the campus of reported sexual assaults. Distribute a detailed annual sexual misconduct report.
The safety of the campus community is one of our fundamental responsibilities. Timely information on recent incidents is an important tool in the fight against sexual assault, both on and off campus. Oxy pledges to continue to provide such information consistent with the Clery Act, Title IX, FERPA, and other laws and regulations regarding the compilation and distribution of emergency public safety notices, crime statistics, and personal privacy.
9) Establish a 24-hour sexual assault hotline.
Survivors need prompt, easy access to support services. Students currently have access to 24-hour, seven-day-a-week help through the dean on duty and Campus Safety, which ensures that help is available during holidays and over the summer. Oxy will explore the creation of an on-call advocacy position to work immediately and directly with survivors and continue its efforts to publicize the availability of both on- and off-campus resources for survivors.
10) Provide annual Peace Over Violence (POV) training to all staff involved in the sexual assault process.
The College believes that education and awareness are critically important. As a result, faculty and staff involved in the adjudication of complaints are offered sexual misconduct training each year. Working with the advisory committee, Oxy will seek to identify additional campus resources to support survivors, improve the visibility of existing programs, and explore new options to strengthen prevention efforts as well as enhance the ability of staff and faculty to handle assault cases effectively.
11) Provide annual MVP (Jackson Katz) or POV training to all student leaders.
Prevention is the best possible approach to sexual assault, and education is the key to prevention. Working with the advisory committee, Oxy will continue its education, awareness and support training efforts throughout the academic year and explore how to effectively enhance that continuum.
12) Bring MVP/Jackson Katz for Orientation for the next five years.
Education begins with the arrival of first-year students on campus and continues until they graduate. Oxy will work with the advisory committee and others to evaluate how best to deploy educational programs throughout students’ entire career at the College and evaluate their effectiveness.
Dean of the College
VP of Student Affairs/Dean of Students
Erica O’Neal Howard
Sr. Associate Dean of Students
- Phone: (323) 259-2691
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org