Minutes of 1/29/15 Meeting

  • Title IX Office Updates
  • Subcommittees
  • Academic Acommodations
  • Academic Freedom Policy Statement

January 29, 2015

I. Call to order
Ruth Jones called to order the meeting of the Campus Committee on Sexual Responsibility & Misconduct (CCSRM) at 11:05AM on January 29, 2015 in Swan Dumke Commons.

II. Members Attending
The following persons were present:
Olivia Sabins; Karla Aguilar; Veronika Barsegyan; Sara Semal; Thomas Wesley; Movindri Reddy; Amy Fluet; Ruth Jones; Richard Mora; Brian Erickson; Jordan Brown

III. Title IX Office Updates

A. Sexual Assault Climate Survey

The Sexual Assault Climate Survey will be administered to continuing students from February 16, 2015 to March 6, 2015. A community meeting will be held to discuss the survey on Tuesday, February 10 at 12 noon in Swan Dumke Commons.

IV. Subcommittees

During the last meeting, the committee discussed creating the following subcommittees:

A. Education and Prevention
Committee members discussed the importance of continued education awareness and prevention measures. To continue gaining information from students on campus, the Title IX Office will be hosting a focus group with students on February 26 from 12:15-1:15 p.m. in Swan Dumke Commons. Committee members agreed that this is necessary. Interested members in this committee were Amy Fluett, Richard Mora, Karla Aguilar, and Movindri Reddy.

B. Website Subcommittee
The general consensus from CCSRM members was that a Website Subcommittee is unnecessary, but rather the committee should discuss the website updates and revisions during committee meetings. The main concern with the Title IX Webpage is to make it more user-friendly and easily-accessible. Because the Webpage contains a wide variety of important information, it should be presented in a manner that is easy to understand for students, staff, and faculty.

Potential website revision Ideas:

  • Create a FAQ page relating to Title IX complaint resolution procedures.
  • Clearly mention the step-by-step process for the complainant, including all of their available reporting options. Students need to have easy access to this information so the process is easy to understand. A flow-chart or visual element may be appropriate for this purpose.
  • Create a short video or visual explaining the Sexual Misconduct Policy and procedures of the Title IX office with clear, concise, and informal language.
  • All website content needs to be compliant with Oxy’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, Clery Act, VAWA, California Affirmative Consent Law, and GATTO.
  • Make the website as easy and streamlined as possible. The fewer clicks, the better.

A question that was brought up during this discussion was: How can Title IX utilize other web-based platforms to disperse important information to students? Social media? A "reporting" mobile app?

A committee member mentioned the idea of making the changes outlined above before the Campus Climate survey will be administered on Oxy’s campus, as it may be triggering for some students.

Title IX Coordinator Ruth Jones has been working on the website. She will provide proposed website updates to the committee for suggestions.

V. Discussion of Faculty Providing Accommodations for Students involved in Title IX Complaints

It was discussed that it is imperative for both faculty and students to be aware of the accommodations that can be made to help support the student in difficult times. From a faculty perspective, it can be difficult to understand what the student is going through when they have limited access to information. When faculty have the option to give students accommodations, including an extension on an assignment for example, this accommodation may not meet the students unique needs at the time. Questions that arose during this conversation:

  • What information can be provided to faculty members to help them make informed decisions on length of extensions and accommodations for students who need them?
  • How can faculty become more sensitive to their students personal situations to help ensure the student receives the necessary accommodations?
  • How can faculty members take charge in providing accommodations for their students so it does not further burden the student’s difficult situation?
  • How can "up to the discretion" of the faculty member (re: the policy) be more clearly established so that faculty can give their students appropriate accommodations?

An idea of a CCSRM member was to have "levels" of accommodation that are established by the Office of Disabilities and SEAN Reporting (Disabilities Services contacts: Erica O’Neal Howard and Luci Masredjian). Example: Level 1 Accommodations: Title IX Issues; Level 2 Accommodations: Flexibility for the faculty member to determine accommodations; Level 3 Accommodations: Optional for the faculty member to provide accommodations.

Title IX Coordinator RJ shared that one of the Title IX Deputy Coordinators will be working this semester on improving the polices and procedures regarding providing interim measures for students involved in the Title IX complaint resolution process. Work will be completed to ensure that policies and procedures are clear for both faculty and students, and that other departments on campus are aware of said policies and procedures. Will present to the committee for feedback.
Committee members stressed the importance of all faculty members being on the same page in regards to the policies and procedures to follow when providing academic accommodations for their students.

It was agreed that interim measures need to be clearly communicated to students so that students know all of the academic and campus resources that are available to them at all stages in the Title IX complaint resolution process.

VI. Discussion of Additional Policy Revisions Re: Academic Freedom Provision

Committee members reviewed the Academic Freedom Provision from the University of California. The provision was provided to elicit discussion on an academic freedom provision. Common concerns of the committee members re: the provision were as follows:

  • The wording may need to be adjusted to not only protect students from an environment of harassment from a faculty member, but also to protect faculty members from any form of harassment from a student. This will help ensure that both faculty members feel comfortable teaching and that students feel comfortable in the classroom.
  • In regards to "academic freedom," what happens when professors ask, "Can I not teach anything that relates to sex?" Clear lines need to be drawn to help ensure that there are parameters for discussion on sensitive topics.
  • The primary objective for each course and its contents (from a legal standpoint) is that there is a legitimate educational objective in regard to the topic being addressed.
  • In regards to "Freedom of speech and academic freedom are not limitless..." – What are the limits?
  • The goal with this particular policy revision is that it becomes as preventative and clear as possible.

In addition to these topics, ideas were also shared as to how Oxy can take measures to ensure students feel more comfortable in courses where topics of a sensitive nature are discussed.

For example, a faculty member offers a "Trigger Warning" for his students when he knows that class discussion may include topics of a sensitive nature. Because of the notice of the trigger warning, multiple students have dropped out of his class in the past few years.

The following questions arise: Should a "Trigger Warning" be included in faculty member’s syllabi? Will this help to make students feel more comfortable? Will this also let students know that they are allowed to leave the room at any time if they feel triggered with no questions asked? How can we continue to increase faculty’s education and awareness regarding sensitivity training?

VII. Adjournment

Ruth Jones adjourned the meeting at 12:03PM.