Update (12:01 am): The @CUSenate has released information about the town hall meeting.   See it below the jump.

In a press release this afternoon, the Columbia College delegates to the University Senate gave an update on the work they and others have been doing concerning sexual assault policy and education at Columbia.  You can see the full text of the statement after the jump.

The statement was sent along with a reminder that the town hall on Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct will be held this Thursday from 5-6:30 pm in 103 Jerome Greene Hall with a star-studded cast of deans and university officials.  PrezBo agreed to hold a town hall meeting in response to pressure from student leaders, organizations, and the discussion created by Anna Bahr’s examination of sexual assault on campus. His statement also coincided with No Red Tape’s campaign.

The USenate has already responded to student concerns about Columbia’s sexual assault policy.  On January 26, the Student Affairs Committee on the Sexual Assault Adjudication Process released a statement calling for increased institutional transparency for issues of sexual assault.  A few days later, PrezBo, DSpar, and several university deans—including Deans Valentini, Boyce, Awn, and Martinez—all released statements expressing their commitment to this cause.

We urge our readers to take advantage of the town hall on Thursday evening, or the town hall submission form. Backing your opinions and ideas with your physical presence could effect real and significant change in campus sexual assault policy.

The statement from USenators  Marc Heinrich, CC ’16; Jared Odessky, CC ’15; and Matthew Chou, CC ’14:

Dear Columbia College,

We write to remind you of the Town Hall on Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct this coming Thursday, March 13, from 5:00-6:30pm in 103 Jerome Greene Hall. The Town Hall will serve as a forum for students to express concerns and speak directly with administrators; those who are unable to attend may submit questions beforehand at www.studentaffairs.columbia.edu/townhall. A transcript of the Town Hall, with names and speakers redacted, will be provided shortly after the event.

We also wanted to take this opportunity to provide updates on the ongoing work related to policy and education on the topic. We have been working closely with a large consortium of students, including the Coalition Against Sexual Violence, to modify and develop policy changes. Below are several updates:

Biweekly Meetings with Executive Vice President Joe Ienuso, Student Services for Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct (SSGBSM), and Office of Student Affairs: Student representatives have been meeting with the aforementioned departments on a biweekly basis to enact policy changes. These meetings have already resulted in a number of revisions: (a) the presence of two investigators when testimonies are transcribed, (b) a letter detailing rights for both complainants and respondents, (c) a resource review of both the Rape-Crisis Center and Sexual Violence Response, (d) an investigation of broad changes to consent education policy across both undergraduate and graduate schools, and (e) a search for a revised appeals process.

Presidential Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault (PACSA): At the April 4 University Senate plenary, the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) will be presenting a resolution to modify PACSA. In addition to strengthening PACSA’s mandate and establishing mechanisms for transparency, the resolution improves the committee’s composition by (a) streamlining its membership to 13 persons, (b) adding faculty with relevant expertise to the committee, and (c) increasing student representation.

Formation of a Senate subcommittee: The Senate’s Executive Committee, SAC, and the Commission on the Status of Women are currently working together to form a subcommittee which will review current policies and lead the enactment of any necessary reforms.

Data Release: SAC is working closely with the Provost’s Office to coordinate the release of data pertinent to students. We encourage individuals with specific suggestions to email us at asksenate@columbia.edu.

Weekly Coalition Meetings: There have been weekly coalition meetings of interested student groups and individuals to discuss policy changes. We urge students to attend these important discussions, and those interested in attending or contributing to these meetings should email casvatcu@gmail.com to be added to the workshop mailing list.

We recognize how sensitive a topic this can be for all students, staff, faculty, and administrators at Columbia, and we appreciate the many opinions that have been expressed. We hope to see you at the Town Hall.


Marc, Jared, and Matt

Update 12:04 am: Here is the statement released via the @CUSenate twitter account:

The @CUSenate (https://twitter.com/cusenate) account on twitter just made the following public—

The administrators at the Sexual Assault Town Hall will include the following—

  • Dean Valentini, Dean Boyce, Dean Awn, and Dean Hinkson
  • Sharyn O’Halloran, Chair of the University Senate
  • Dean Martinez (CC/SEAS Student affairs), Dean Harford (GS Student Affairs)
  • Melissa Rooker, Associate Provost for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action
  • Michael Dunn, Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Faculty and Staff Concerns
  • Amy Zavadil, Associate Dean for Equity
  • Jeri Henry, Senior Associate Dean of Judicial Affairs
  • Samuel Seward, Associate Vice President and Medical Director, Columbia Health
  • LaShawn Rivera, Director, Sexual Violence Response
Caitlin Lowell, CC ’15, will be explaining the structure of the town hall and will be selecting the anonymous questions to be answered by administrators. Matthew Chou, CC ’14, and Dean Martinez will facilitate questions from the audience. Questions will alternate between previously submitted anonymous ones and in-person audiences. CPS and peer educators will be available for students during and after the town hall.