As the semester draws to a close, the Pomona College administration has concluded several investigations of reported sexual assaults, which students were notified of earlier in the semester via a new e-mail notification system. Among the concluded cases is the sexual assault reported at the Sept. 18 Pub which resulted in the weekly party’s cancelation.
“The investigation is finished, and there is no more action being taken on the report,” said Daren Mooko, Associate Dean of Students for Student Development and Leadership.
The e-mail notification sent out to students at the 5Cs Oct. 10 said that Pub would be suspended for the duration of the investigation. Although the investigation is now concluded, both Mooko and Associate Dean of Students and Smith Campus Center Director Chris Waugh remained uncertain about when Pub would be resurrected.
“Since then, I think the dynamics of Pub have gotten more complicated,” Mooko said. “I don’t think that just because the investigation was over automatically meant that Pub was going to come back. I think there were other mitigating factors in why Pub is still suspended.”
Besides the alleged incident at Pub, two other sexual assaults were reported on Pomona’s campus this semester. Mooko said that progress had been made in the investigations of those incidents as well.
“Some have been concluded, and some are ongoing,” Mooko said.
He declined to provide more details out of concern for the privacy of those involved.
The administrative response to the reported incident at Pub is unlikely to set a binding precedent for the way the college would respond to future allegations of sexual misconduct at similar events.
“We want to be mindful to take each report on a case-by-case basis,” Waugh said. “I think that that’s the important piece: that we be thoughtful, and look at the context of each one, and not just come up with these rules that fit everyone.”
“On the one hand, I think it’s important to be aware of precedent and equity, and treating similar occurrences with similar organizations in a similar manner,” Mooko said. “I think there’s value in that. But I also don’t want anyone to feel trapped by it, either.”
He said that while precedent will be taken into account when deciding how to respond to an incident, it will be only one of many factors considered because every reported incident is different.
The administration is not planning to change the way parties are run in the future as a direct result of the reported incident at Pub, but Waugh said that the ongoing discussion about campus safety and overall event security may prompt changes in upcoming semesters. For instance, student organizers may be expected to take on a greater degree of responsibility in maintaining the safety of their events.
“We’re in the process of developing more rigorous expectations for student organizations that sponsor events with alcohol,” Waugh said. “Because now, it’s pretty standard that a student organization will book their space, book Campus Safety, and go have fun at their party.”
As the security policy for events continues to evolve, student groups may become required to follow in the footsteps of the Pomona Events Committee (PEC). At least at major events such as Harwood Halloween, PEC members are responsible for monitoring the party instead of merely participating. Armed with walkie-talkies, they work throughout the event to ensure that everything goes safely and smoothly.
Waugh said that all student organizations could be required to appoint members as monitors in the future, which could reduce the number of Campus Safety officers required at parties and therefore allow organizations to spend less of their budgets on security fees.
This could potentially alleviate the controversy over the security spending cap imposed on organizations for the first time this year, which has reduced the number of parties organizations are able to throw each semester and has provoked complaints from the student body about the dwindling social life on campus.
“The cap on security funding affects organizations that have limited funding to put on their own events and thus restricts their ability to throw events,” said Adam Belzberg PO ’14, president of the fraternity Sigma Tau. “It’s not something that just affects the fraternities. It has disincentivized all organizations from co-sponsoring events with other organizations.”
Waugh, however, remains upbeat about the future of Pomona social events.
“I’m hopeful, and actually really excited about the semester ahead, because I believe that as challenging as these past couple semesters have been to events like Pub, I believe the outcomes have been promising. You know, the fact that we’re having safer parameters connected to parties, that we’re having conversations about student responsibility,” Waugh said.