How Oxy Compares

Federal and California Sexual Assault Proposals: How Does Oxy Compare? 

Occidental College is committed to providing education, resources and support to prevent and resolve sexual assault and all forms of sexual misconduct and discrimination. Occidental’s current sexual misconduct policies and procedures include not only those required by law but many now being recommended as best practices. As this comparison shows, Occidental has already implemented most of the major recommendations made by the White House Task Force and the policies and practices that would be required by federal and state legislation.

Here’s how Oxy’s policies and procedures compare with the April 2014 recommendations of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault; the provisions of the U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s proposed “Campus Safety and Accountability Act"; the July 2014 results of the national survey conducted by the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight; and the provisions of SB 967, the California legislation on affirmative consent signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in September 2014.

White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault

U.S. Senate Bill 2692

Survey of Campus Sexual Violence Policies and Procedures, U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight

California Senate Bill 967

White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault
Occidental College Policy
Conduct a periodic climate survey, voluntary in 2014, proposed as mandatory in 2016. Oxy released the results of its first campus climate survey in April 2015.
Schools should provide mandatory prevention and bystander training, early and often, and include men. All students must undergo online training to be able to register for classes; first-years get mandatory bystander and additional training at Orientation; survivor advocate and Project SAFE provide additional training to student groups throughout the year.  As in previous years, in 2015-2016 administrators, staff and faculty will receive Title IX training. Training emphasizes their role as responsible employees and how to respond to reports of sexual harassment/sexual assault. 
Identify confidential victim advocate. A full-time confidential survivor advocate has been in place since April 2013. In addition to the survivor advocate, Oxy provides confidential support through Emmons Student Wellness Center counselors and ordained clergy at the Office for Religious & Spiritual Life.
Schools must be clear about who will and will not share information, and with whom information is shared. Oxy’s Sexual Misconduct Policy clearly states those who are required to report information about sexual harassment/sexual assault incidents to the Title IX coordinator and those who are confidential resources.  These categories are also specifically explained during Title IX training and in a reporting brochure distributed on campus.
Schools must be equipped to provide ongoing support should a student choose not to continue to a full investigation. Oxy’s Sexual Misconduct Policy states, “Interim measures [change in class schedule or campus housing, imposition of “stay-away letter," etc.] may be imposed regardless of whether formal disciplinary action is sought by the Complainant or the College."
Schools must provide specialized training for officials and investigators. We ensure that all individuals involved in investigation and adjudication receive specialized training on their specific roles. If external investigators are used, we verify that they have received full and appropriate training.
College judicial boards should play a very limited role in the investigation period. Hearing panels and other adjudicators play no role in the investigation process.
Schools must hold perpetrators actually accountable. We are committed to the prompt and neutral investigation and resolution of complaints. When a complaint or report is referred to the Title IX office, we conduct an initial assessment and a formal investigation and resolution in appropriate cases. Of the 24 cases of sexual assault and non-consensual touching reported between 2009 and December 2013, complainants filed formal reports in 22. Of those cases, 21 were investigated. (One was not because the respondent accepted responsibility for his actions during the initial assessment.) Respondents in 16 of the 21 cases were found responsible for sexual misconduct. The 16 cases involved 12 respondents; nine of the 12 were expelled. The other seven cases resulted in various combinations of suspension, probation, letters of apology, forfeiture of campus positions, educational sanctions, etc. In none of these cases was a respondent required only to complete an educational sanction, such as a “book report."
Schools should partner with community-based organizations if they cannot provide 24/7 services. We are committed to the prompt and neutral investigation and resolution of complaints. When a complaint or report is referred to the Title IX office, we conduct an initial assessment and a formal investigation and resolution in appropriate cases. Of the 24 cases of sexual assault and non-consensual touching reported between 2009 and December 2013, complainants filed formal reports in 22. Of those cases, 21 were investigated. (One was not because the respondent accepted responsibility for his actions during the initial assessment.) Respondents in 16 of the 21 cases were found responsible for sexual misconduct. The 16 cases involved 12 respondents; nine of the 12 were expelled. The other seven cases resulted in various combinations of suspension, probation, letters of apology, forfeiture of campus positions, educational sanctions, etc. In none of these cases was a respondent required only to complete an educational sanction, such as a “book report."
Schools should effectively work with local law enforcement. Survivors are provided with information on their right to file complaints with both law enforcement and/or the campus disciplinary process. Occidental signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the LAPD in March 2016 that spells out, among other issues, how sexual assault cases will be handled.

 

U.S. Senate Bill 2692
Occidental College Policy
Designate a confidential advisor. A full-time confidential survivor advocate has been in place since April 2013. In addition to the survivor advocate Oxy also provides confidential survivor support through the Emmons Student Wellness Center counselors, and the director of religious and spiritual life. Their names, contact information, and all reporting options are prominently posted online.
Cannot sanction a student who reveals a violation in good faith, such as underage drinking, in the process of reporting a sexual violence claim. Oxy’s Sexual Misconduct Policy provides for amnesty for alcohol and drug violations when reporting sexual misconduct.

May provide an anonymous online reporting form.

Oxy has an anonymous online reporting form in place.
Proposed law will set minimum training standards for all campus personnel. Oxy provides online training for all students; bystander training for all first-year students and student organizations; faculty, staff and administrators will receive training on their responsibilities under the Occidental Sexual Misconduct Policy; and investigators and others involved in the resolution process will receive specialized training. We will engage in a process of evaluation of our training programs, and incorporate any emerging research on the most effective methods and topics to improve training and prevention programs.
Annual anonymous climate survey. Oxy released the results of its first campus climate survey in April 2015.
Uniform process for campus disciplinary proceedings; no separate process for athletic departments or other subgroups. Oxy has a single uniform process that is applied to all students.
Should have MOU with local law enforcement. Oxy signed an MOU with LAPD in March 2016.

Greater transparency in reporting statistics.

Oxy provides a summary of formal complaints filed, number investigated, respondents found responsible/not responsible, and number of respondents expelled from 2009-2013.  We are exploring additional ways to provide information on complaint resolution while protecting the privacy of the individuals involved in specific cases.

 

Survey of Campus Sexual Violence Policies and Procedures, U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight
Occidental College Policy
Only 16% of the institutions in the Subcommittee’s national sample conduct climate surveys. Oxy released the results of its first climate survey in April 2015.
Only 51% of institutions in the national sample provide a hotline to survivors and only 44% of institutions in the national sample provide the option to report sexual assaults online. Approximately 8 percent of institutions still do not allow confidential reporting. Oxy has a hotline, an online anonymous reporting form, and counselors, ordained clergy and a survivor advocate who can receive confidential reports. We are exploring other online reporting options.
More than 20% of institutions in the national sample provide no sexual assault response training at all for members of their faculty and staff. More than 30% of schools do not provide any sexual assault training for students. At Oxy, preventative education is mandatory for all students. Those who investigate and adjudicate cases have received and continue to receive training. Training is provided for Campus Safety officers and Residence Life staff, and athletics staff and athletes. Additional training is provided for students in Greek organizations, student government, and student club leadership. As is the case each year, campus-wide training on policies and procedures for faculty and staff is planned for 2015-16. In addition, campuswide education and awareness programming is provided, including Take Back the Week.
Only 22% of schools in the national sample provide sexual violence training targeted at the Greek system and only 37% provide training targeted at student athletes. We think it is important to emphasize that sexual misconduct is a problem that demands a response from the entire campus community, not just certain groups. Occidental provides annual mandatory training to all students.
More than 40% of schools in the national sample have not conducted a single investigation in the past five years. Only 25% of the national sample had investigated 10 or more cases over the past 5 years. At Oxy, we are committed to the prompt and neutral investigation and resolution of complaints. When a complaint or report is referred to the Title IX office, we conduct an initial assessment and a formal investigation and resolution in appropriate cases. At Oxy, 24 formal complaints of sexual assault were made from August 2009 through December 2013. In two of these cases, the complainant declined to file a formal report and proceed with an investigation; in a third, the respondent accepted responsibility during the initial assessment. The remaining 21 were investigated and adjudicated.
More than 20% of the nation’s largest private institutions conducted fewer investigations than the number of incidents they reported to the Department of Education, with some institutions reporting as many as seven times more incidents of sexual violence than they have investigated. All complaints at Oxy receive an initial assessment from the Title IX Office. In some cases, complainants choose not to pursue a formal complaint/investigation; with some anonymous reports there is insufficient information to pursue an investigation, i.e. the respondent is not named or is not subject to the College’s jurisdiction. In such cases accommodations are still provided to the survivor.

While most schools reported using a team approach to respond to sexual assaults, their approach often does not include representatives of services that could help the survivor. Only 25% of institutions that use a team approach incorporate the local prosecutor’s office. And though more than 90% of institutions state that sexual assault survivors have access to community victim assistance/advocacy programs, only 51% of schools reported incorporating those services into their team approach. Most institutions also fail to provide access to a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE), a specially trained nurse who can provide medical and other services to survivors of sexual assault.

We do not believe that it is appropriate to include the prosecutor's office on our response team because it should be the survivor’s decision whether or not to report to law enforcement. Instead, the survivor advocate will accompany the survivor at his or her request to file a criminal report. Oxy does not have a SANE nurse; survivors are provided with free transportation and an escort by the survivor advocate, if requested, to one of three designated Sexual Assault Response Team centers.
Law enforcement officials at 30% of institutions in the national sample receive no training on how to respond to reports of sexual violence. In addition, more than 70% of institutions in the national sample do not have protocols regarding how the institution and local law enforcement should work together to respond to sexual violence. Oxy provides training to its Campus Safety officers, and has a signed MOU with the LAPD.
Many schools use adjudication processes that do not comply with best practices. More than 30% of institutions in the national sample failed to provide training regarding “rape myths" to the persons who adjudicate sexual assault claims. More than 40% of the nation’s largest public schools allow students to help adjudicate sexual assault cases. Approximately 19% of institutions in the national sample reported that they do not impose orders that would require the perpetrator to avoid contact with the survivor of the assault. More than 20% of institutions in the national sample give the athletic department oversight of sexual violence cases involving student athletes. Best practices are still emerging.  We seek to improve and incorporate any new research on the most effective training methods and prevention programs. At Oxy, all staff and faculty who participate in adjudication receive training. No students serve as members of adjudication panels. Oxy offers survivors stay-away orders as an option, among a wide range of other accommodations. Oxy’s Title IX Office is responsible for all cases of sexual misconduct, including those involving athletes.
More than 10% of institutions in the Subcommittee’s national sample do not have a Title IX coordinator. Oxy was one of the first California colleges to hire a full-time Title IX coordinator.

 

California Senate Bill 967
Occidental College Policy
Affirmative Consent Definition Consent Definition
“Affirmative consent" means affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. Consent consists of an affirmative, conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.
It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the consent of the other or others to engage in the sexual activity. All parties must demonstrate a clear and mutual understanding of the nature and scope of the act to which they are consenting and a willingness to do the same thing, at the same time, in the same way.
Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Consent may not be inferred from silence, passivity, lack of resistance or lack of active response. An individual who does not physically resist or verbally refuse sexual activity is not necessarily giving consent.
Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. Consent may be withdrawn by any party at any time. Recognizing the dynamic nature of sexual activity, individuals choosing to engage in sexual activity must evaluate consent in an ongoing manner and communicate clearly throughout all stages of sexual activity.
The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent. Even in the context of a current or previous relationship, each party must consent to each instance of sexual contact each time. The consent must be based on mutually understandable communication that clearly indicates a willingness to engage in sexual activity. The mere fact that there has been prior intimacy or sexual activity does not, by itself, imply consent to future acts.
It shall not be a valid excuse to alleged lack of affirmative consent that the accused believed that the complainant consented to the sexual activity under the following circumstance: The accused’s belief in affirmative consent arose from the intoxication or recklessness of the accused or the accused did not take reasonable steps in the circumstances known to the accused at the time, to ascertain whether the complainant affirmatively consented. Being intoxicated or impaired by drugs is never an excuse for sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking or intimate partner violence and does not diminish one’s responsibility to obtain consent.

It shall not be a valid excuse that the accused believed that the complainant affirmatively consented to sexual activity if the accused knew or reasonably should have known that the complainant was unable to consent to the sexual activity under any of the following circumstances:

  1. The complainant was asleep or unconscious.

  2. The complainant was incapacitated due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication, so that the complainant could not understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual activity.

  3. The complainant was unable to communicate due to a mental or physical condition.

Incapacitation is a state where an individual cannot make an informed and rational decision to engage in sexual activity because s/he lacks conscious knowledge of the nature of the act (e.g., to understand the who, what, when, where, why or how of the sexual interaction) and/or is physically helpless. An individual is incapacitated, and therefore unable to give consent, if s/he is asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware that sexual activity is occurring.

 

Incapacitation may result from the use of alcohol and/or drugs. Consumption of alcohol or other drugs alone is insufficient to establish incapacitation. The impact of alcohol and drugs varies from person to person, and evaluating incapacitation requires an assessment of how the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs impact an individual’s:

  • decision-making ability;

  • awareness of consequences;

  • ability to make informed judgments; or

  • capacity to appreciate the nature and quality of the act.

Evaluating incapacitation also requires an assessment of whether a respondent knew or should have known that the complainant was incapacitated.

Policies and Protocols Policies and Protocols
Preponderance of evidence standard. Oxy uses a preponderance of evidence standard in adjudicating complaints.
Must have detailed and victim-centered policies and protocols that comport with best practices and current professional standards. At a minimum policies and protocols shall include the following: Oxy is committed to survivor-centered policies and protocols as well as a neutral and fair formal process. As best practices are still emerging, we engage in a continuing review of our policies, procedures and protocols.
Protections for the privacy of individuals involved, including confidentiality. Section IV, “Confidentiality v. Privacy," states: “The College is committed to protecting the privacy of all individuals involved in a report of sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking, or intimate partner violence." Internal protocols for protection of the privacy of individuals involved in the process.
Response to stranger and non-stranger assault. Oxy policies and procedures apply to all reports of assault, whether stranger or non-stranger.
Preliminary survivor interview, including development of survivor interview protocol, and comprehensive follow-up survivor interview. The Title IX Office has internal protocols for initial assessment and other interviews.
Contacting and interviewing the respondent. The Title IX Office has internal protocols for contacting and interviewing respondents, complainants and witnesses.
Written notification to survivor about availability of, and contacts for, on- and off-campus resources and services, and coordination with law enforcement. The Title IX Office provides written notice to complainants and respondents of their rights during the process and available support on and off campus. This information is also included in printed brochures distributed on campus and online.
Participation of survivor advocate and other support people. A full-time confidential survivor advocate has been in place since April 2013. The survivor advocate can also act as advisor or support person. Per Oxy policy, both the complainant and respondent have a right to an advisor throughout the process, including any hearing, as well as the right to a support person at the hearing.
Investigating allegations that alcohol or drugs were involved. As part of the investigative process, allegations that alcohol or drugs were involved are investigated.
Amnesty program for survivors and witnesses so they are not sanctioned for violations of student conduct policy. Oxy policy provides for amnesty for alcohol and drug violations when reporting sexual misconduct.
Role of institutional staff supervision. We look forward to a clarification of this provision, which isn’t clear.
Comprehensive, trauma-informed training program for campus officials involved in investigating and adjudicating cases. The Title IX Office ensures that all individuals involved in investigation and adjudication receive specialized training on their specific roles. If external investigators are used, we verify that they have received full and appropriate training.
Procedures for confidential reporting by victims and third parties. Confidential reports cans be made to the survivor advocate, Emmons Student Wellness Center counselors, and ordained clergy in the Office for Religious & Spiritual Life. It also is possible to submit an anonymous report online.
MOU or partnerships with on-campus and community-based organizations. Oxy is a partner with Peace Over Violence and has signed an MOU with the LAPD.
Must implement comprehensive prevention and outreach programs that include:  
Empowerment programming for victim prevention. All students must undergo online training to be able to register for classes; first-years get bystander and additional training at Orientation.
Awareness-raising campaigns. Project SAFE, a prevention and intervention support program, runs training and awareness programs throughout the year.
Primary prevention. Mandatory student education and training programs all seek prevention.
Bystander intervention. Bystander intervention is part of student training and education.
Risk reduction. Mandatory preventative education and training programs, clear understanding of policies and sanctions, and the climate survey are all aimed at risk reduction.
Inform student body about campus policy, affirmative consent standard, students’ rights and responsibilities. All students must undergo online training to be able to register for classes; first-years get mandatory bystander and additional training at Orientation. Additional programs are being implemented by Oxy’s director of prevention education.
Must be part of new student orientation. First-years get mandatory bystander and additional training at Orientation.