Students at the 5Cs are bringing their peers into a bigger part of the discussion about sexual assault on the campuses by holding a Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER) event that will discuss necessary changes to the consortium’s sexual assault policies.
“What this organization does is it goes into different colleges and takes a very intersectional, identity-based approach to understanding college policies around sexual violence,” said Olivia Buntaine SC ’15, one of the event organizers. “Eventually you come out with a clearer understanding of the policy and the tools to critically think about the policies that affect you.”
The SAFER training will be held Saturday, April 27 at the Queer Resource Center (QRC) of the 5Cs. It is sponsored by the Queer Survivors Project of the QRC, and there are openings for 25 students to participate in the training session.
“You spend four hours with the trainer workshopping the policies: seeing where there are holes, seeing where things could be different, trying to understand what might be oppositional within student culture, ways to end rape culture,” Buntaine said.
“What’s exciting about this training is how to make the policy language more accessible and user-friendly,” said Miriam Feldblum, Vice President and Dean of Students at Pomona College. “What I think is really important for students is to talk about how to translate it, how to make people more aware.”
As of today, the 5Cs do not have a unified policy to address sexual assault. Harvey Mudd College and Claremont McKenna College finalized and published their new sexual assault policies this winter, but the other three colleges have yet to publish or finalize their new policies.
The policies have been under review since the United States Department of Education issued a mandate in April 2012 saying that sexual violence on college campuses is a violation of Title IX.
The Deans of Students at each college are currently in the process of reviewing the consortium’s sexual assault policies. On March 2, each dean participated in a panel at the Motley Coffeehouse at Scripps College, during which they agreed that consent needs to be emphasized when considering new definitions of sexual assault at the 5Cs.
“We want as much as possible to have a common set of policies and procedures so that students who are interacting across campuses know what to expect,” Feldblum said.
Director of the QRC Adriana di Bartolo said she hopes the workshop will help students better navigate life at the consortium.
“The goal is getting all the schools on the same page, and I just hope that students will leave here able to read these documents and understand them, understand how they’re going to impact their lives, and understand how they’re going to impact them as they move on each different campus,” di Bartolo said.
Current disciplinary procedure mandates that in the event of an alleged sexual assault, discipline is handled according to the grievance procedures of the college where the accused individual attends, not necessarily the victim’s college or the college where the assault occurred.
“What almost all of the student activists that I’ve talked to have said is that they would feel a lot more comfortable with a universal grievance procedure. As it currently sits, all the different schools have different grievance procedures, which are necessary, according to some of the conversation in the administration right now, because of the schools’ separate cultures,” Buntaine said.
Members of the Queer Survivors Project reached out to the Deans of Students at each of the 5Cs. Dean Rebecca Lee of Scripps responded but declined to support the event. The members said the Deans of Students at HMC and Pitzer College did not respond to their e-mails.
According to Buntaine, Feldblum is supporting the event after agreeing to meet with student representatives solely from Pomona. Dean Mary Spellman of CMC initially declined to support the event but later endorsed it.
The SAFER program was started in 2000 by students at Columbia University, and, according to its website, it “fights sexual violence and rape culture by empowering student-led campaigns to reform college sexual assault policies.”