Minutes of the 11/16/15 Meeting


I.      Call to order

Ruth Jones called to order the meeting of the Campus Committee on Sexual Responsibility & Misconduct (CCSRM) at 3:00PM on November 2, 2015 in Hameetman Science Room #225.

II.      Members Attending

The following persons were present:

Anne Schell, Brian Erickson, Katelyn Fink, Olivia Sabbins, Maureen McRae Goldberg, Jordan Brown, Ruth Jones, Richard Mora, Vivian Garay Santiago

III.      Administrative Matters

A. Review minutes from 11/2/15 meeting.

B. The Title IX Office webpage is in the final stages of development and the Communication department has shared that the page will be made available in a few weeks.

IV.      Discussion of community feedback from online feedback

A. It was discussed that the response rate for the anonymous online community feedback form was very low. The Title IX Office and CCSRM committee promoted the feedback process in a variety of ways over the past few weeks, so this is disappointing to the CCSRM members. It was mentioned that this could in part be due to the low trust in Oxy administration to handle issues of sexual assault. Some may see our policy revisions as "as a glacial process that will never have an end." It is now our responsibility to prepare the revised policy as soon as possible and share with Jonathan for this final review and approval.

B. Once the policy has been adopted by the College, the CCSRM would like to continue working to rebuild trust within the Oxy community regarding the handling of sexual assault. Further conversations to come on what healing may look like for the Oxy community.

C. The revisions to the policy have been made in the best interest of the Oxy community, as the CCSRM committee is a combination of students, staff, faculty, and administrators. When the policy revision process has been finalized, it was suggested to send this document to the community as the same time it is submitted to the President with all of the CCSRM committee members names on it so community members can identify who worked on and reviewed the proposed policy changes. It is feared that if the revised policy comes from the administration, the ongoing issue of mistrust could be amplified among the community.

D. Discussion of specific revisions

         i. Academic Freedom Provision (pg. 8 in DRAFT_Sexual Misconduct Policy)

This Policy is consistent with the College’s commitment to academic freedom and free speech.  This commitment requires that the College protect community members’ advocacy in their teaching, learning, and research, including advocacy that may be controversial, provocative, or unpopular.  This protection extends to the civil expression of ideas, however controversial, in the classroom, residential life, and other campus-related activities.

It must be recognized, however, that this protection has its limits.  This Policy defines those limits, and conduct which is found to be "harassing" is not consistent with the College’s commitment to academic freedom and free speech.  No member of the College community may escape responsibility for engaging in harassing conduct merely by labeling the conduct as "speech" or other expressive activity.

It was generally thought that this statement does a good job at explaining the paremeters of free speech without being too narrow: "This commitment requires that the College protect community members’ advocacy in their teaching, learning, and research, including advocacy that may be controversial, provocative, or unpopular."

It was also discussed that the free speech standard should be based on how a "reasonable person" would respond. Free speech will only be encouraged to the point that there is no prohibited conduct (sexual harassment, gender harassment, etc.).

ii. Revising sexual assault provision so that it is clear that what is called sexual assault includes both sexual intercourse and non-consensual sexual contact (pg. 9 in DRAFT_Sexual Misconduct Policy)

1.                 Sexual Assault

"Sexual Assault" includes both Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse and Non‑Consensual Sexual Contact.

a.                 Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse

"Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse" is having or attempting to have sexual intercourse with another individual:  

  • By force or threat of force;
  • Without effective affirmative consent; or
  • Where that individual is incapacitated. 

Sexual intercourse includes vaginal or anal penetration, however slight, with a body part (e.g., penis, tongue, finger, hand) or object, or oral penetration involving mouth to genital contact.

b.                 Non-Consensual Sexual Contact

"Non-Consensual Sexual Contact" is having sexual contact with another individual:

  • By force or threat of force;
  • Without effective affirmative consent; or
  • Where that individual is incapacitated.

Sexual Contact includes intentional contact with the intimate parts of another, causing an individual to touch their own intimate body parts, or disrobing or exposure of another without permission.  Intimate body parts may include the breasts, genitals, buttocks, groin, mouth or any other part of the body that is touched in a sexual manner.

It was discussed that this definition may create too broad of a definition of sexual assault. We addressed, though, that we can categorize differing levels of sexual misconduct (ex: touching on the butt would be typically seen as nonconsensual sexual contact and/or sexual harassment and not sexual assault) on a case by case basis. It was also mentioned that the distinction between the two definitions – sexual assault and sexual misconduct – is useful and that it may be appropriate to stick with the definitions that the community is familiar with.

iii. Definition of Intimidation (pg. 14 in DRAFT_Sexual Misconduct Policy)

"Intimidation" is the use of implied threats to overcome an individual’s freedom of will to choose whether or not to participate in sexual activity or provide consent.  Consent obtained by intimidation is not valid.

It has been suggested that we include more realistic examples in the policy. Such examples of statements could include, "I know who all of your friends are," "I have your mom’s phone number," "I have pictures of you," etc.

iv. Statement on prohibited relationships:

"Any individual may file a complaint alleging harassment or discrimination, including an aggrieved party outside the relationship affected by the perceived harassment or discrimination."

It has been suggested that this statement is somewhat unclear. Could it provide realistic examples? Could it include such a statement as, "…including who believes they have been disadvantaged by…"? It was also suggested that it needs to be clarified that this section applies when a third party believes another is being harassed or discriminated against or that it may create a discriminatory environment for the 3rd party.

Statement on prohibited relationships:

"Sexual relations between persons occupying asymmetrical positions of power, even when both consent, raise suspicions that the person in authority has violated standards of professional conduct and potentially subject the person in authority to charges of sexual harassment based on changes in the perspective of the individuals as to the consensual nature of the relationship.  Similarly, these relationships may impact third parties based on perceived or actual favoritism or special treatment based on the relationship."

A question arose of whether or not we need the above paragraph in the revised policy. Does this statement imply judgment, favoritism, or intimidation to the Oxy community.

CCSRM will consider whether it is necessary after revisions to other paragraphs.