Title IX Community Update - February 25, 2015


Dear Oxy Community,

Since my arrival at Oxy, one of the things I have heard repeatedly is the community’s desire for more information about what the College is doing now to respond to the issue of sexual assault. This will be the first in a series of updates to provide you with details on some of our latest Title IX initiatives and our plans for this semester.

Climate Survey

The Title IX Office is committed to identifying and implementing methods to effectively prevent and respond to sexual violence.  A critical element in shaping effective programs and responses is a better understanding of what’s happening at Oxy and students’ perceptions on how the College addresses and responds to sexual assault. To add to the information that we have from reporting sources, we are administering an anonymous, online climate survey for students. The survey was launched on Monday, Feb. 16 and will run through Friday, March 6. The results will be released to the community in April and used to inform and improve support, policies, and practices at Occidental.

I want to urge all students, whether or not they have experienced unwanted sexual contact or sexual assault, to take the survey. (All students should have received an email from the third party administering the survey, the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium.) If you any questions about the survey, I will be tabling at the Quad on the dates and times below.  I am also available by e-mail ruthjones@oxy.edu.

Wednesday, 2/25, from 11:30am-12:15pm

Friday, 2/27, from 11:30am-12:15pm

Monday, 3/2, from 11:30am-12:30pm

Wednesday, 3/4, from 11:30am-12:30pm

Campus Committee on Sexual Responsibility & Misconduct (CCSRM)

As you know, President Veitch appointed the 14-member committee in October.  The committee has been hard at work at its weekly meetings. You can find the committee’s charge, a membership list, and meeting minutes at http://www.oxy.edu/office-title-ix/campus-committee-sexual-responsibility-misconduct.  The committee has been asked to report back to the community by May 1.

Title IX Complaints

We continue to check with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) on a regular basis, but have not been given a date as to when the OCR will complete its ongoing investigation of Occidental. We will, of course, let everyone know as soon as we learn anything new.

Focus Group on Online Prevention Education

This Thursday, February 26 from 12:15-1:15 p.m. in Dumke Commons we will have a focus group for students to help us learn more about how we can improve our online education program. All students are invited and light refreshments will be served.  

As we consider additional ways to prevent and address sexual violence, it is important to include student voices in the process. I hope that students will participate in this and upcoming events so that their voices will be heard.  

Building the Title IX Team

A priority this semester is building and training the Title IX team. As I announced earlier, Chemistry Professor Eileen Spain was appointed as a deputy coordinator, joining previously appointed deputy coordinators Jacalyn Feigelman, interim director of human resources, and Alison Haehnel, head softball coach. Each deputy coordinator serves as an information and formal reporting resource for all members of the community.  

Each deputy will be assigned to supervise individual complaints and to work on special projects.  Working with the Title IX coordinator, the team will review requests for interim measures and remedies and assess the response in individual cases.  The team will be joined in individual case assessments by others such as the director of campus safety, as required by the facts in individual cases.

The deputy coordinators have received advanced training in the college policy and procedures, Clery training and are scheduled to receive training from our community partners Peace Over Violence.  Peace Over Violence is a nonprofit, multicultural, community based and volunteer centered organization dedicated to building healthy relationships, families and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence.

Discrimination Investigators

To supplement our use of external investigators to investigate sexual assault complaints, we have identified members of the Oxy community to serve as internal investigators. These individuals will receive specialized training on our policies and procedures, investigative techniques and trauma informed responses.  Serving as an investigator requires a tremendous commitment to Oxy and our shared resolve to have a discrimination free environment.  I am grateful to the following community members for their willingness to take on that commitment:

  • Kristi Allen, director of budget and planning
  • Barbara Gillet Valiente, associate vice president of finance and controller
  • Chad Meyers, director of residential education and housing services
  • Thomas Wesley, assistant director of housing services
  • Diego Silva, assistant director of student life and Greek life
  • Laura McNaughton, assistant director of residential education
  • Juls White, associate director of residential education

Student Advisors

In accordance with regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education in October 2014, students may use an advisor of their choice, including an outside attorney, family member or friend, to assist them during the College’s Title IX resolution process (and all related conversations, meetings and proceedings).  As I explained in a previous email, this change expands the pool – but not the role – of those individuals who may serve as advisors. In accordance with College policy, advisors may not speak for, or on behalf of, a student involved in the Title IX complaint process.

Faculty Council President Nalsey Tinberg used her contacts to identify a legal organization that is willing to provide pro bono (volunteer) advisors for complainants: 

California Women’s Law Center
360 North Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 2070
El Segundo, CA 90245

The CWLC has attorneys available to serve as a resource/advisor to Occidental complainants, men and women, who are filing Title IX sexual assault/harassment/gender discrimination complaints and going through the College resolution process. 

To request assistance, contact both Laura Riley (laura.riley@cwlc.org) and Kylie Reynolds, (kylie.reynolds@cwlc.org).  Please note, however, that the College does not endorse or recommend this organization (or their attorneys), and that each organization makes an independent decision about the cases that it will accept and the terms of the representation. 

Consistent with our commitment to an equitable process, we are continuing to look for organizations willing to assist respondents.  (I will let you know when we have success in that regard.)

Additionally, the Title IX Office will continue to train members of the community as advisors and to maintain a list of those who have indicated their willingness to serve in this role. The Title IX Office will also train any individual that a student identifies as an advisor who is not an Oxy faculty or staff member.

Training

A critical function of the Title IX Office is to provide training. As of February 2015, 105 faculty and 581 staff members and administrators received in-person training on Title IX and our sexual assault policy. The most recent session was on Monday, February 23 for new employees.  

During December we expanded our training program to include sessions for contractors who will be working on ongoing construction projects on campus.  Training by the Title IX coordinator is a method of assuring that even temporary members of our community are aware of their rights and responsibilities.

It is important that those involved in the intake and resolution of cases receive advanced training.  Along with training for the deputy coordinators and discrimination investigations, in February I completed intake training for members of campus safety.  

Last week, I attended a three-day Department of Justice training workshop with Leora Freedman, general counsel, Sara Semal, director of student wellness, and Karla Aguilar, Project S.A.F.E program coordinator and prevention education specialist. We received valuable resources and ideas that I look forward to sharing with the community.  

Title IX Office Legal Intern

Please welcome a new temporary member of the Title IX Office staff, Rick Martin. Rick is a second-year law student from Southwestern Law School.  He will be conducting legal research for the Title IX Office this semester.  

I’m grateful that I work in a community where everyone – faculty, students, and staff – is committed to making our campus a safer place for all students. It is this kind of collective effort that is essential to creating a new culture at Oxy.

Sincerely,

 

Ruth Jones

Associate Dean, Title IX Coordinator

323-259-1338

ruthjones@oxy.edu