President Bollinger has announced Columbia University’s newest Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Students, which can be found here. We’ll try to break down his email, which mostly mimics what was sent out a few days ago by deans, below:
- Goals of the policy: “to strengthen confidence in the University’s handling of reports of sexual assault and other gender-based misconduct, to ensure fairness for all parties involved, and to provide more assistance to students in need.”
- Improving key personnel: students will no longer serve on hearing panels, and advisors or attorneys may now accompany students to any meetings or hearings related to investigations.
- Navigation: Case managers will guide students (both “complainants” and “respondents”) through the process, and help with living arrangements.
- Logistics: They’ve added six new staff members to the Office of Sexual Violence Response and will open a new Rape Crisis Center location on the seventh floor of Lerner. Undergraduate orientation training has been “expanded.” PrezBo reminds us that Suzanne Goldberg is his new “special advisor.”
- Pats on the back: “Today’s new policy is one among many reforms we have initiated to try to deal with what is most certainly a national issue.”
Yes, this is a national issue, and this is a new policy, but much of it is the same. Appeals (page 17-18) will continue to be made to the dean of the respondent’s school, and the timeframe for resolving reports is still 60 days, yet there is no check placed on this (page 12). We’ll be looking into the more minute differences between the new policy and the old policy (as updated in August 2013), and will update accordingly.
Update (11:20 am): The introduction from DSpar’s email to Barnard is also included below.
Update (11:35 am): See a statement from several student groups, calling it “misrepresentative for Columbia to characterize these reforms as a response to student concerns,” below. The letter expresses disappointment that the Executive Vice President of Student Affairs did not get to oversee the process, and that student input was not considered. It continues: “The policy does not guarantee accommodations like housing and academic changes for survivors, it does not establish clear or useful sanctioning guidelines, it does not sufficiently improve the training for staff members who interact with survivors, and it leaves the appeals process in the hands of Deans with no expertise, inadequate training, and a clear bias.”