Jan

26

USenate Releases Statement on Sexual Assault Process

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The USenate Twitter account just released a statement from the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) on the Sexual Assault Adjudication Process. In short, the SAC has called for:

  • President Bollinger to release a statement regarding the university’s policy on sexual assault and misconduct,
  • a town hall to act as a forum for students and faculty to speak publicly on the issue,
  • full transparency from the university regarding data related to sexual assaults and other associated violations, and
  • making the President’s Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault (PACSA) more inclusive of the student body and more transparent.

For more information about sexual assault at Columbia, see former Blue and White managing editor Anna Bahr’s (BC ’14) piece. Statement below.

Update (10:05 pm)–The SAC sent out the statement via email to Columbia College students. Matthew Chou, a co-chair of the SAC, added:

We understand this is an incredibly important issue for students, and we are dedicated to reaching solutions in partnership with the entire Columbia community. Through the Senate, we will also continue to actively pursue the implementation of the statement’s recommendations. If you have any questions or would like to get involved, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line at [email protected]

Akshay Shah, also co-chair of the SAC, noted, “We feel that this is an issue that is appropriate for the University Senate to take on as it deals with a university office following a process that the university has put in place to comply with Title IX.” We’ve reached out to administration for comment and will update accordingly.

Update (1/27, 4:15 pm)–Robert Hornsby, the Associate Vice President of Media Relations, sent us this statement in response to the letter:

Sexual assault and gender-based misconduct are always unacceptable and often criminal.  The safety and well-being of every student and each member of the Columbia community is our foremost priority, and we recognize that confidence in the handling of allegations of gender-based misconduct and sexual assault is an essential part of ensuring that safety.  Over the last few months, Columbia has been reviewing its policies and procedures for the reporting, investigation, and provision of discipline in these matters.  As part of this process, the University’s Presidential Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault has been speaking with the Columbia University Student Democrats and other student leaders whose requests for the disclosure of aggregate data are under consideration.  A new website urging sexual respect in our university community was launched last week.

In the days ahead, we look forward to sharing additional steps intended to sustain our campus dialogue and to ensure that students’ voices inform the ongoing development of the university’s gender-based misconduct policies.  We therefore welcome the broad conversation occurring on campus involving Columbia’s leadership, the University Senate, Columbia University Student Democrats and a large cross-section of concerned students in the expectation that it will increase awareness and identify opportunities to improve current practices.

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15 Comments

  1. anon  

    As a rapist I feel like I am being targeted by this.

  2. USenate member  

    "Hey look, people are starting to talk about (problem that's gone unfixed for a long time), let's put out a wank press release while they're paying attention so we look productive"

  3. Upright citizen

    Akshay Shah, what a boss <3

  4. seas '14

    probably a bit random, but:

    i feel like it's a bit of a misnomer to call this department "Department of Gender-Based Misconduct". I know there's a "and Sexual" bit in there officially, but it's always referred by the formal name. I do agree that sexual assault most often falls under "man assaulting woman" scenario, but doesn't constantly equalizing "Gender-Based Misconduct" to sexual assault end up making sexual assault a completely heteronormative issue? Or does the "Gender-Based" bit mean something else and I'm just completely misinterpreting it? Does it just refer to sexism?

    In either case, I still feel like it would make more sense to call it "Dept of Sexual Misconduct" when referring to sexual assault issues rather than "Dept of Gender-Based Misconduct."

    Anyways, I'm glad to see the Senate trying to build up momentum on the issue.

    • Anonymous

      actually really thoughtful point

    • Yeah

      I noted the same thing when reading Anna Bahr's piece the other day. I wonder if this is shying away from using the word 'sexual' for some reason, or if they were trying to encompass all possible improper forms of conduct that appear to be based on gender/sex... although that seems a little convoluted in itself.

    • anonymous

      I'm almost positive that it's called the gender-based misconduct office because, as mandated by Title IX, schools must have offices and systems in place for handling all forms of gender based misconduct, which includes sexual assault.

    • Anonymous  

      It's the "Department of Gender-Based AND Sexual Misconduct." This is because it also deals with issues of discrimination or targeting on the basis of gender as well as sexual violence, as Title IX requires.

  5. Y  

    I get it but it just sounds evasive. I mean I guess rape is misconduct, but it's also first off sexual violence, misconduct sounds like using the wrong fork

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