Procedures for Reporting and Investigating Sexual Assaults Vary Across 7Cs
Nicole Larson | Oct. 16, 2015, 10:31 a.m.
The Claremont Colleges are unique among consortia in the United States in that they share an integrated academic and social scene. But this also means that students could be on a different campus than their own when they become a victim or a witness of sexual assault. Although the definitions of sexual assault and misconduct are the same across the 7Cs, each of the Claremont Colleges has its own set of procedures for investigating reports of sexual assaults. TSL looked into the colleges' polices to highlight the similarities and differences of the reporting and investigation process.
Pomona College Title IX Coordinator Daren Mooko wrote in an email to TSL that he is aware of “the very understandable hesitancy of a student who faces the prospect of engaging in a different campus’ adjudication process.”
Because of the level of interaction and socialization between the schools, administrators at each college try to work together in order to “reduce sexual violence not just at our home institutions but in the Consortium as a whole,” Sally Steffen, Title IX coordinator at Scripps College, wrote in an email to TSL.
According to Nyree Gray, chief civil rights officer and Title IX coordinator of Claremont McKenna College, the definition of "what would be a violation" is consistent across the student handbooks for the Claremont Colleges.
“What would be an assault here would be an assault at Pitzer, would be an assault at Pomona, because we have shared definitions within our policies,” Gray said.
Because of the college's responsibilty to its students, cross-campus cases are handled by the home college of the respondent, the person being accused of sexual assault or misconduct.
“There is also an agreement between the seven colleges that for cases that involve a Complainant and a Respondent from different campuses, an external investigator will be hired to work on the case and the two campuses would split the cost,” Mooko wrote.
In these types of cases, the Title IX coordinator of the complainant’s school would work with that student and the Title IX Coordinator of the respondent’s school to make sure that all the facts had been collected and an investigation could proceed. The Title IX coordinator would also be responsible for helping the complainant navigate another school’s procedures.
Each year, the 7C Title IX Coordinators Working Group reviews the reporting process's fairness, efficiency and protection of both parties. Gray said that the definitions of sexual assault and misconduct are reviewed and discussed during the summers. The Working Group also meets on a biweekly basis “to identify common challenges and to work to achieve wherever possible joint solutions," Steffen wrote.
These biweekly meetings allow “the Title IX Coordinators to discuss trends on and off campus around sexual violence and to also discuss any changing or developing federal or state legislative measures," Mooko wrote. He added that the meetings help increase coordination between the colleges.
“Title IX Coordinators all know each other well and consider themselves colleagues,” Steffen wrote.
This year, the EmPOWER Center, a new 7C resource, is slated to open. The purpose of the center is to “provide a hub for people who are interested in sexual assault and education prevention, are wanting to have training and advocacy and, for survivors, counseling," Gray said.
According to Gray, the center will help coordinate education, support and prevention measures as well as coordinate different groups from across the schools that have similar goals. Similarly, Teal Dot Bystander Training is a 5C-wide program that trains students to be active bystanders of violence or sexual assault incidents. Pomona made Teal Dot mandatory for all first-year students this year.
“Every time that you can get people thinking about how to prevent it, we are one step ahead," Gray said. "And I think giving people tools in which to actually effectuate their intention makes us that much closer, and that much better, at preventing it from occurring."
The colleges are making an effort to create online reporting systems for stuents as well. Pomona is currently piloting Callisto, an online software that Pomona students can use to anonymously report sexual assaults. CMC has recently implemented CMC Listens, while Scripps has implemented the Culture of Respect program to support survivors. According to the Title IX coordinators, the other colleges are waiting to see if Callisto may be implemented in the future. All students can also anonymously report sexual assaults through Campus Safety's LiveSafe app.
“We encourage students, faculty and staff to download the LiveSafe app, which allows users to easily report, receive and share information to and from Campus Safety, as well as to virtually walk on campus with family or friends,” Stan Skipworth, director of Campus Safety, wrote in an email to TSL.
Skipworth wrote that LiveSafe includes a new automated reporting protocol that provides confidential support to individuals who report sexual assaults to Campus Safety.
Gray emphasized that she and the other Title IX coordinators encourage students to report instances of sexual assault or misconduct.
“We want to be able to support and keep this community safe and that only happens if people come forward," Gray said. "And so, to the extent that anyone has any other ideas on things that they think we should be trying or doing, I want them to reach out."