CW: sexual violence
Six of the seven Claremont Colleges rolled out revisions to the 6C Interim Title IX Policy in late January in an effort to comply with an order mandated under the Trump administration.
These changes came after the Department of Education signed a final rule in May 2020 that required colleges and universities to implement a formal grievance process where Title IX complainants and respondents must be questioned in a live hearing.
Complying with this order, six of the seven Claremont Colleges issued a unified policy change to Title IX Aug. 14. Keck Graduate Institute was the only Claremont College to undertake the federally mandated Title IX policy changes separately.
A comment period was then opened by the 6C interim Title IX policy task force to ensure that input from the community was heard.
When the initial policy changes were drafted, many students felt like there was room for improvement, and a joint-institution coalition effort known as the Claremont Colleges Coalition for Survivor Advocacy, or CCC4SA, was founded.
Maria Hernandez Pinto PZ ’22, a co-head of Pitzer Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault, was one of these students. The drafts needed “a trauma-informed and survivor-centered policy,” Hernandez Pinto told TSL via email.
Hernandez Pinto, and the other heads of the 5C advocates groups, formed CCC4SA to amplify student voices concerning the federally required 6C interim policy changes. CCC4SA reviewed the Title IX drafts that were released to offer suggestions and bring awareness to the rest of the Claremont community.
In response to community feedback, the 6C interim Title IX policy task force issued revisions that went into effect on Jan. 28.
According to Pitzer College’s Title IX Coordinator Corinne Vorenkamp, the revised policy issued on Jan. 28 took into consideration the suggestions offered by students and also further distinguished the differences between the federally mandated Title IX policy and the Claremont Colleges’ existing policies.
Notably, the revisions provided further definition of the different roles in the grievance process. The changes also included the removal of a clause which allowed consideration of a respondent’s character when deciding their sanctions.
Glen Skahill PO ’22, a member of CCC4SA, was relieved to see the removal of the character clause. It could potentially allow misconduct to slip between the cracks, Skahill said.
According to Skahill, the 2016 Brock Turner case is an instance where analyzing one’s character amidst allegations of sexual assault lessened the respondent’s sanctions in what has been debated as a controversial decision.
Prohibition of condom stealthing, clarification of the definitions of sexual harassment and affirmative consent, providing of additional justice practices under the alternative resolutions process and affirmative consent and consideration of a party’s sexual history were among further revisions put forth by CCC4SA.
Members of CCC4SA still feel that while their voices were heard by the Title IX task force, there are some necessary changes they would like to see reflected in the next round of revisions.
Aaron Scher PZ ’22, a member of Pitzer Advocates, said via email that “while the Claremont Colleges are not perfect … they’ve done a decent job crafting Title IX rules that abide by the laws, create a seemingly fair adjudication process and don’t leave survivor needs completely out. One of the most important things they have done is emphasize that conduct which was covered by Title IX in the past — but not under the DeVos guidelines — likely remains covered under harassment and discrimination policies.”
“Overall, I feel as though that the task force responded positively to all of the community’s recommendations in the Jan. 28 revision,” Hershey Suri PO ’21, one of the founders of CCC4SA, said via email. “They took CCC4SA’s edits seriously, incorporated a lot of them and provided much more clarity on procedure.”
But, when looking forward to the next round of revisions, Suri hopes to see specific training and qualifications outlined for the Title IX administrator position that will oversee the formal grievance process under the 6C interim policy.
Additionally, Suri hopes that attorneys are accessible for all students and that breaks will be allowed during the formal grievance process as consideration due to the potential retraumatization of the complainant.
The second round of comments, which ended Feb. 15, will inform the 6C interim Title IX policy task force’s next round of revisions, which will be released at an unspecified date.