Pitzer Senate Discusses Bills to Revise Sexual Assault Policies

The Pitzer Student Senate began discussing two bills that could significantly change Pitzer College’s policies for punishments for students found responsible for "non-consensual sexual intercourse" on Sunday, March 5.

Pitzer’s Student Handbook defines "non-consensual sexual intercourse" as any non-consensual sexual act involving penetration of any sort. Any non-consensual sexual act that does not involve penetration is classified as non-consensual sexual contact, and does not carry a mandatory expulsion penalty. Under Pitzer’s official policies, Pitzer’s Judicial Council classifies any student it determines has committed non-consensual sexual intercourse as "found responsible for non-consensual sexual intercourse."

The two bills, drafted by first-year class representative Brendan Schultz PZ ’20, mandate that students found responsible for incidents of non-consensual sexual intercourse have these findings listed on their transcripts, and would make expulsion a recommended punishment rather than a mandated punishment.

“The biggest requirement for a college community is that it creates a safe space where everyone’s rights are protected, and people do not have to fear for their safety,” Schultz said.

Schultz believes that under Pitzer’s current policies regarding sexual assault, some students do not feel safe.

The transcript bill would require that for students who are found responsible for non-consensual sexual intercourse that the incidents remain on their transcripts for three years in cases of expulsion, or for the duration of the student’s suspension in cases of suspension.

Currently, “a student could transfer right across the street” to one of the other Claremont colleges with “nothing on their records,” and would be able to “escape nearly all responsibility for their actions,” Schultz said.

Currently, incidents of academic misconduct are recorded on transcripts in cases of suspension or expulsion. Schultz believes that this should also be the standard for cases of non-consensual sexual intercourse.

The second bill, which would downgrade the expulsion requirement for students found responsible for non-consensual sexual intercourse to a recommendation, was proposed to allow Pitzer’s Judicial Council to exercise discretion with regards to punishment.

“A cookie-cutter approach does not work when the case is not cookie-cutter,” Schultz said.

“Some victims did not feel comfortable coming forward” under a mandatory expulsion policy because they viewed the punishment as too harsh, Schultz added.

Schultz’s bills are still in their preliminary forms and are subject to change based on student and administrative input. One change Schultz is considering is broadening the scope of the transcript notation bill to include other types of sexual misconduct, including non-penetrative non-consensual sexual contact, harassment, and stalking, or making transcript notations an optional tool for Pitzer’s Judicial Council to use if they feel it is appropriate.

Schultz said that he encourages people to come talk to him about the proposed bills.

If Pitzer Senate were to pass these bills in their current or revised form, they would not immediately become policy. Rather, they would be submitted as proposals to the Pitzer College Council, a body made up of Pitzer student senators, as well as faculty and staff, which would decide collectively whether to revise the Pitzer Student Handbook accordingly.

Currently, none of the other 5Cs have policies mandating transcript notations for students found responsible for incidents of sexual assault. Pitzer is also the only college that mandates expulsion for students found responsible for incidents of non-consensual sexual intercourse.

However, Schultz’s proposed legislation could prompt further policy discussions at other colleges.

“I would be interested in a conversation about it,” said Daren Mooko, Pomona’s associate dean, Title IX coordinator, and diversity officer, with regard to potentially instituting a transcript notation policy for instances of sexual assault at Pomona.

During the Pitzer Senate Meeting, Sen. Isaiah Kramer PZ ‘20 recommended that the 5Cs work together to implement consistent and effective sexual assault policies for all campuses.

“I think we should move forward in conjunction with the other schools because we have a shared social life, and we need to be addressing this together,” Kramer said. “We really need to address this as a 5C community.”