We would like to highlight the steps we have taken this semester, and future actions to which we are committed.
Dear Oxy Community:
We write to follow up on our September 23 message regarding sexual misconduct at Oxy, in which we noted that there is more work to be done to educate, to build awareness, to encourage survivors to come forward, and to ultimately to change campus culture. This is especially true given that we were not able to maintain in-person education and prevention efforts related to sexual misconduct and sexual respect from March of 2020 until August of 2021. Informed in part by the student feedback provided in the recent listening sessions held by Project SAFE—many thanks to all those who participated—as well as in direct meetings with other students, the Title IX Coordinator, and staff in Project SAFE, we want to highlight the steps we have taken this semester, and future actions to which we are committed.
As Dean Flot announced Oct. 25, Tirzah Blanche has been appointed as the new manager of Project SAFE and survivor advocate. A search will soon be underway to hire a new program coordinator and education specialist—Tirzah’s previous role. These searches will involve search committees, including students and other members of the College community.
Announcement of the College’s 2021 Sexual Assault Climate Survey was emailed Oct. 28. We urge all members of the Oxy community to complete the survey. All responses will be anonymous, and your participation is critical to help inform us of issues, concerns, and opportunities at Oxy regarding sexual misconduct. Please look for the survey link in your inbox today.
In tandem with the publication of the College’s 2021 Clery report on October 1, the Title IX Office published its own 2020-21 annual report to provide a complete account of the reports it received during the last academic year. Additional future initiatives to increase transparency are described below.
Last month, we wrote that we identified three areas that require immediate attention: more resources for the Title IX Office; additional resources for survivor advocacy and education and prevention through Project SAFE; and training that is specific to Oxy, and is focused on changing and improving behavior and culture. Here are the steps we will take to better meet these needs:
Hire a full-time case and support manager in the Title IX Office, who will be trained to conduct intake meetings, coordinate needed resources and accommodations, provide status updates on ongoing cases and other forms of support for those involved in the Title IX process.
Identify and furnish an appropriate space for a trauma-informed meeting room that can provide greater comfort and privacy for students coming to the Title IX office.
Publish end-of-semester reports outlining the reports received by the Title IX Office. The first end-of-semester report will be distributed in January 2022.
Hire a second survivor advocate to work under Tirzah’s supervision.
Identify appropriately trained staff to provide in-person advocacy and support during weekends.
Increase awareness of local resources that are available to all community members, including the confidential 24/7 hotline (213-626-3393) available through Peace Over Violence, where staff and volunteers are available to provide emotional support, advocacy, information and referrals to survivors of sexual assault, dating/domestic violence or stalking.
Training and Education
Create an inclusive Sexual Misconduct Training and Education Working Group to develop a new and comprehensive training and education program, including outreach and education efforts aimed specifically at LGBTQIA+ and other campus communities that historically have under-reported sexual misconduct.
Develop additional training, resources, and reference materials for faculty and staff.
Update the Sexual Respect and Title IX website.
In addition to these next steps, we want to address what seem to be some misunderstandings about the availability of counseling services at Emmons. There is no limit on the number of counseling sessions available to survivors, and all Emmons therapists are trauma certified. (To get connected to any of the free, confidential services at Emmons, call (323) 259-2657 or email firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Campus Committee on Sexual Responsibility and Misconduct (CCRSM) has been an important part of this conversation and will continue to work with the Title IX Office and Project SAFE to review existing policy and plan for the upcoming report on the results of the campus climate survey this spring.
We believe these actions will make demonstrable progress in our effort to educate, build awareness, encourage survivors to come forward, provide enhanced support for survivors, and guidance for all those involved. Ultimately, we hope to change campus culture, and reduce, if not prevent entirely, incidents of sexual misconduct. We understand that this is an ongoing effort and a priority and will look to continue working closely with students, faculty and staff to achieve these goals.
Harry J. Elam, Jr.
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Title IX Coordinator
Project SAFE Manager and Survivor Advocate