Goals for Change
Immediate expulsion for all students found responsible of sexual assault.
In the past four academic years, the Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices (OSARP) has adjudicated 36 sexual misconduct cases. Only 18 accused students were given the verdict of "responsible," and out of those, only 3 were expelled. It is unclear what type of sexual misconduct each case was for, but regardless, all types of sexual violence are unacceptable and the response has been inadequate. 90% of rapists are repeat offenders. Allowing assaulters to remain on campus or return after a suspension is a public safety threat. We believe that the only appropriate sanction for sexual assault is expulsion.
Enforce time limits on sexual misconduct investigations.
The OSARP Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process guidelines state: "Typically, the Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices schedules the Sexual Misconduct Case Review to occur within thirty days of the Accused Student being notified of the charge. However, the circumstances surrounding the case may make it necessary for the university to shorten or extend that timeline." Due to the vague discretionary clause included in this policy, investigations are typically extended and drag on for months, causing survivors to relive their trauma for an extended period of time with their lives on hold. While we see the importance of handling these cases with patience and care, we recognize the need for increased efficiency, even if it means investing in hiring more Title IX/OSARP personnel. We hope to see it enforced that OSARP sexual misconduct investigations last 30 business days or less.
Trained professionals with relevant backgrounds on the Board that hears sexual misconduct cases.
Currently, any university staff/faculty member who hears a certain amount of non-Title IX OSARP cases and completes an additional training can serve on the Board that adjudicates these sensitive, life-altering cases. We believe that sexual misconduct charges should be handled by individuals with professional backgrounds in relevant fields such as psychology or criminal law, who also complete the additional training for hearing Title IX cases in OSARP. Decisions must be made by qualified, trauma-informed individuals who fully understand what constitutes sexual misconduct and how such violations impact survivors and their communities.
Prohibit submission of "character statements" in Title IX cases.
With current procedures, reporting and responding parties can submit "character statements" to their file and/or allow "character witnesses" to testify in OSARP hearings. These statements are made by individuals who typically were not involved with the incident itself but come to speak to their own experiences with the parties involved, similar to a job reference (i.e., "I do not believe he could commit rape because he is involved with community service"). This type of "evidence" is typically not permissible in courts of law. We do not believe that this is relevant evidence, nor do we believe it should be allowed due to the possibility of causing implicit bias and its ability to lengthen hearings that already run over seven hours long in many cases. Evidence should be limited to those who were physically present at the location of the reported incident or had relevant contact with either party regarding the incident.