Pitzer Proposes Changes to Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Misconduct Policies

Joining an effort to update and unify civil rights-related policies across the Claremont Colleges, the Harassment and Discrimination Task Force at Pitzer College has proposed changes to college policies related specifically to various types of discrimination and sexual misconduct. The task force presented a draft of proposed changes to the Pitzer community in advance of a Pitzer College Council meeting in April, at which council members will vote on the final draft.

Sexual assault and harassment policy has been under discussion at the 7Cs since April 2011, when the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) outlined how colleges and universities are obligated to handle reports of alleged sexual assault and violence under Title IX. Title IX protects individuals from sex-based discrimination in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. 

Pitzer is the last of the five undergraduate colleges to change its sexual misconduct policy to comply with Title IX, according to Mita Banerjee, a member of the Faculty Executive Committee and a psychology professor at Pitzer.  

“Pitzer had started that conversation [about the policy change] a few years ago, but now is behind all of the other schools, which agreed to the common definitions that are being proposed,” Banerjee wrote in an email to TSL.

The Claremont Colleges have worked to standardize definitions of terms such as “rape” and “incapacitation from alcohol or other drugs.”

Banerjee wrote that Pitzer’s current policy does not align with federal regulations, which could affect the college’s access to federal funding. She added that Pitzer has changed some of its procedures, but has not yet made official policy changes.

“Some of the
changes in procedures in the last few years, that were part of putting us into
compliance with government regulations, were not codified in the actual policy,
and so that is another piece of what is happening—putting those procedures
explicitly into the policy language,” she wrote. 

Aside from adopting common definitions of terms such as “consent,” the proposed sexual assault policy changes will include updated language about retaliation, domestic violence and intimate partner violence, hazing, and stalking, as well as updated complaint procedures at the recommendation of the OCR, Banerjee wrote. Additionally, the proposal outlines separate, specific complaint procedures for cases in which the respondent is a student, cases in which the respondent is a staff member, and cases in which the respondent is a faculty member.

Brian Carlisle, vice president for student affairs at Pitzer, said that the task force is hosting open forums to solicit feedback from students and faculty and staff members.

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