The Claremont Colleges will face new federal standards regarding sexual assault under the Clery Act, the regulation that requires colleges to disclose statistics and information on crimes that occur both on and around college and university campuses. The new section of the act was signed after a negotiation session in Washington, D.C., on April 1, following the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
The updates to the Clery Act require all higher-education institutions to implement education programs about sexual violence on campus. In addition, both accusers and the accused are now guaranteed the right to an adviser of their choice in proceedings over sexual violence, and colleges must expand their reporting o sexual misconduct to include instances of domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
“These new mandates will simply be incorporated into our processes accordingly,” said Dianna Graves, the director of academic planning and deputy Title IX coordinator at Claremont McKenna College. “As for education programs and the rest, education programs are really to reduce the incidence of sexual misconduct and other crimes, and that’s a huge priority at CMC and across the colleges.”
Miriam Feldblum, the vice president of student affairs
and dean of students at Pomona College, shares a similar view.
“To me, this isn’t a reluctant
embrace,” Fledblum said. “It’s actually a conversation that the colleges have already been
having on campus, and this provides a really important framework. The spirit of the changes are really important and match the goals and
principles of the colleges.”
Although the colleges within the Claremont consortium each report sexual violence and other crimes under the Clery Act
individually, administrators said that the new requirements will facilitate a growing cooperative effort among the colleges to address sexual assault.
“I think intra-consortium
cooperation has already increased,” said Brian Carlisle, vice president for student affairs at Pitzer College. “Sharing our resources, sharing our expertise, and sharing
our compassion and care for students is something that’s well underway.”
Jennifer Berklas, the director of human resources and Title IX coordinator at Scripps College, discussed existing collaboration among the colleges in an email to TSL.
“The Colleges have both Title IX and Clery working
groups that meet regularly to address consortium-wide matters and coordinate
educational and training activities,” she wrote. “In addition, the Colleges collaborated to
create a uniform set of definitions for use in resolving sexual assault and
other sexual misconduct cases and jointly investigate cross-campus cases of
sexual assault or sexual misconduct.”
Feldblum said that being in a
consortium provides benefits that other liberal arts colleges might not have individually.
“I think being in a consortium made
us far more mindful than other institutions,” Feldblum said. “The consortium
provides you colleagues, so you’re not limited, because sometimes a small
liberal arts colleges wouldn’t have so much staff and support.”
Sarah Devereaux Hardimon PO ’16, a member of the Pomona Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault, said that the campuses still face a challenge in trying to keep students well-informed without
potentially damaging survivors of sexual violence.
“What I would hope to see is really
putting survivor needs first, and recognizing the centrality of the emotional
and physical well-being of survivors on campus—so
simultaneously making reporting as accessible to survivors as possible, while
also having accommodations that can be made without pressuring survivors into
the reporting process, if that’s not something that they want to do,” Hardimon said.