I. Call to order
Ruth Jones called to order the meeting of the Campus Committee on Sexual Responsibility & Misconduct (CCSRM) at 11:05 a.m. on May 14, 2015 in JSC Faculty Commons.
II. Members Attending
The following persons were present:
Ruth Jones, Richard Mora, Sara Semal, Karla Aguilar, Brian Erickson, Olivia Sabins, Maureen McRae Goldberg, Amy Fluett, Veronika Barsegyan, Thomas Wesley, Jordan Brown
III. Discussion on Policy Language Revisions
It was initially discussed that there is some repetition in the current policy, which can make the text confusing in portions of the policy. To ensure that the same language is not repeated throughout the policy and to be as clear as possible, we will work on removing the repetitive sections as necessary. The following points include suggested edits to the policy language, recommendations on improved procedures, and ideas for further discussion as we move forward.
1. In regard to the Title IX Team, we are suggesting that the Chief of Campus Safety be removed as a permanent member of the Title IX Team. The Title IX Team (Title IX Coordinator and three Deputy Coordinators) meet weekly to review each case that comes through the office. The Chief of Campus Safety should be in the same category as Res. Ed. and Student Affairs and included when relevant to specific case discussions.
2. In order to be more inclusive throughout the policy, it is suggested that we remove all uses of "his/her" and replace this text with "complainant/respondent."
3. Since the only students at Oxy who are considered responsible employees are Resident Advisors (RA’s), we need to make this clearer in the policy. RAs have specific reporting responsibilities in their positions, and other student employees on campus are not considered responsible employees.
4. Regarding the "Sexual Harassment" portion of the policy – the committee agreed that this portion needs to be clearer. We would like to include specific elements and examples of how to evaluate a hostile environment to help clarify what sexual harassment is and is not. FAQ’s in this section on the website may be helpful to help educate and clarify.
5. Replace "victim" throughout the policy with "survivor." We are aiming for consistency in regard to the terms we use, and we also hope to utilize appropriate language.
6. Update the Academic Freedom portion to be more clear, suggested as follows:
a. "This Policy shall not be interpreted to prohibit conduct that is legitimately related to the course content, teaching methods, scholarship, or public commentary of an individual faculty member or the educational, political, artistic, or literary expression of students in classrooms and public forums. Academic Freedom does not protect speech or expressive conduct that violates federal and /or state anti-discrimination laws."
7. Remove "Harm to Others" portion – this is already mentioned clearly in the Student Code of Conduct and we do not need to redundant with this verbiage.
8. The stalking definition and stalking examples should be listed next to each other in the policy, and in the Dating Violence portion.
9. We need to include real-life examples of consent so that it can paint a clearer picture for college students on what consent actually is. We can obtain examples of consent in the Title IX training slideshow and in Project SAFE’s training materials.
10. Further clarify "force" and provide examples to accompany updated definition.
11. Update "coercion" definition. We need to look at the bigger picture and assess coercion in a broader sense. Including real-life examples could help individuals understand what coercion is – and is not. Examples mentioned in our meeting was using ultimatums, elements of dating violence, getting effective consent after coercion,. We hope to be clear without being overly-specific. Examples: "You’re the only friend that I have left in college," "I am going to break up with you if you don’t have sex with me," and a student bursting into tears before sex but then consenting afterward (these are all initial working examples – more information to come on these).
12. Include FAQ’s for incapacitation – pull examples from Title IX & Project SAFE’s training materials.
The discussion on incapacitation led to a broader discussion on educating students on healthy and positive sex. It was discussed that some college students may think they need to get drunk in order to have sex, which is extremely unhealthy and worrisome. We discussed enhancing our education and prevention programs at Oxy to help college students understand that they can have healthy and positive sex without large amounts of alcohol involved. This is an effort that extends beyond the scope of our committee and will need to be further discussed with other departments on campus. The following questions were brought up:
i. Why do students feel the need to drink so heavily?
ii. What changes between senior year of high school and freshman year of college that encourages binge drinking behavior?
iii. What about our culture here at Oxy encourages binge drinking?
iv. Do students fully understand the negative health effects of binge drinking and recreational drug use?
13. Find an add more support resources to the Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, and Stalking section of the policy to help support survivors.
14. Spend more time on the statement on retaliation. The committee does not like "adverse action" as it’s not descriptive enough. We also want to include an FAQ document in this section that helps explain what retaliation looks like on a college campus.
15. In regard to interim suspensions for respondents, we have included the requirement that they have a right to an appeal before they are suspended on an interim basis. Our hope is to use the same Appellate Officer for this matter as we will use for all Title IX appeals. We also want to make sure that it is clear that someone cannot appeal simply because they do not like the decision – they need to read the appeals process and have sufficient evidence to challenge the decision.
a. While we are still fine-tuning the investigation procedures, we do need to coordinate with the Faculty Council and Staff/Administrators Council to figure out how exactly we can appoint someone to this role.
16. We discussed whether the complainant and respondent should be given the opportunity to appear before the hearing panel in the Investigation process. An advantage is that it can be empowering for a survivor to share their story and give both sides an opportunity to share. We all agreed, though, that the disadvantages outweighed the advantages. This could be very stressful for students and can be both grueling and emotional exhausting. Also, the hearing panel could have bias and have personal feelings toward the students, especially if one of them seems more likeable or charismatic than the other. Overall, our job is to protect the community and make this process less painful and stressful for the students involved. We agreed that we would not propose the parties to appear before the hearing panel in Title IX cases.
17. Regarding advisors/support persons in the Title IX process, we discussed including verbiage that in some way explains that the Title IX Office only communicates with the students involved. Advisors can be copied on all communication if the student submits this request in writing, but advisor should not have communication with the Title IX Office without their advisee involved.
18. To stay consistent, change "encourages" to "strongly encourages" throughout the policy.
19. To clarify the rights of the complainants and respondents, we will include a chart of the rights of each party in the policy. This will help show that the complainant and respondent have very similar rights throughout the Title IX Complaint resolution process.
20. We are concerned about the "Georgraphical location" verbiage in the policy. We want to make edits to this portion to ensure that the Oxy community understands that our policy protects oxy community members both on and off campus.
Once we make the outlined changes, we will send a revised draft for the committee to review.
IV. Recommendations from the Prevention/Education Sub-Committee
The Prevention/Education Sub-committee presented its recommendations to the committee. Some of the ideas discussed were as follows:
1. We can learn to better communicate with student clubs and student organizations on campus. We can use Project SAFE PA’s to help tailor the presentations and trainings to the varying student groups. It was also suggested that an intake form be created for clubs so that the Project SAFE PA’s know what they would like to get further education or training on.
2. Project SAFE can work with the Athletics Department to meet with student athletes in more non-formal ways, such as pick-up games, fundraisers, fun activities on campus, etc. It was also recommended that we do research on CalTech’s Title IX Night at one of their basketball games, as a way to strengthen the presence of the Title IX Office to students on campus.
3. We discussed that all first-year students are required to take two Cultural Studies Program (CSP) courses; one in the Fall and one in the Spring. There is a topic that gets picked for each new semester and the readings and assignments are typically aligned to these unique topics. Last semester’s, for example, was sustainability. Another way to think about the issue of sexual assault more deeply could be to incorporate some sort of education/prevention measures within the CSP curriculum. An idea was to have the education component relate to building a healthy and safe community where all students feel valued and respected. If we’re going to try to change the culture here at Oxy in regard to these sensitive subjects, we need a space where these types of conversations can genuinely happen.
4. Creating a safe community and culture of respect on campus is our main objective, and should be the main objective of all Oxy community members. We hope to find new ways to create awareness of the safe culture and resources available to students. An idea was to create a "Culture of Care" oath, where all incoming students can hand-write their oath of what it means to have a safe and respectful culture at Oxy. This could help clarify the expectations that Oxy has of all our students on campus and can create a reference point to go back to make sure students are following their commitment to the community. We can also incorporate additional branding and marketing efforts so that students are reminded that Oxy is a safe and supportive place. Some of these ideas included creating a putting a sticker on the back of all library books, branding on the back of campus receipts, etc.
5. We will continue to think this summer about the increasing amount of cross-complaints and risk reduction in regard to this. An important question we must work through is: who has access to the Survivor Advocate in cross-complaints? What types of support can we offer each individual so that our process is as fair and supportive as possible?
6. Lastly, it was discussed that it would be helpful to have more resources for these efforts. Unfortunately, money will continue to be an issue for many of the offices on campus who want to do more but are limited in resources. We would like to continue exploring ways to get additional funds to be able to put some of these important ideas into action to help create the most safe, respectful, and caring community possible.