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President Jonathan Veitch's Letter to Occidental College 5-1-2013
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President Jonathan Veitch's Letter to Occidental College 5-1-2013

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  • 1. Danielle  Dirks  <danielle.dirks@gmail.com>[Oxy-­faculty-­l]  May  1  Sexual  Assault  UpdatePresident  Veitch  <president@oxy.edu> Wed,  May  1,  2013  at  12:37  PMTo:  oxy-­students-­announcements-­l@oxy.edu,  oxy-­faculty-­l@oxy.edu,  oxy-­staff-­l@oxy.edu,  oxy-­admin-­l  <oxy-­admin-­l@oxy.edu>To  the  Occidental  Community:In  an  effort  to  address  the  serious  concerns  raised  about  sexual  assault  at  Occidental,  the  Collegecommissioned  Gina  Smith  and  Leslie  Gomez,  two  of  the  nations  leading  experts  on  issues  of  sexual  misconducton  college  campuses,  to  conduct  an  independent  review  of  Oxy’s  policies  and  procedures.  As  promised,  I  amsharing  Gina  and  Leslie’s  May  1  Interim  Recommendations  letter  in  its  entirety.  The  attached  letter  details  theirwork  thus  far,  makes  some  initial  recommendations,  and  lays  out  a  goal  for  the  delivery  of  their  final  report  inAugust.Work  on  this  issue  is  too  important  to  delay,  and  with  Commencement  less  than  three  weeks  away  it  is  vital  notto  lose  our  momentum.  We  will  continue  to  press  on  with  our  work  through  the  summer  months.  In  the  interim,based  on  input  from  individual  faculty,  staff  and  students,  the  work  done  to  date  by  the  Oxy  Sexual  AssaultCoalition  (OSAC)  and  the  Sexual  Assault  Task  Force,  and  Gina  and  Leslie’s  preliminary  recommendations,  theCollege  is  committed  to  taking  the  following  specific,  concrete  actions  immediately.  We  hope  these  initial  stepswill  serve  as  the  basis  for  a  shared  agenda  in  the  weeks  and  months  ahead.Actions  Already  TakenEarlier  this  month,  we  launched  a  newly  revised  Sexual  Assault  Resources  &  Support  website.  We  inviteyour  feedback  as  we  continue  our  work  to  make  it  more  helpful  and  user-­friendly.We  hired  an  on-­campus  advocate  to  bolster  support  for  sexual-­assault  survivors.  Naddia  Palacios(npalacios@oxy.edu),  who  many  of  you  remember  as  our  well-­regarded  associate  director  of  interculturalaffairs  from  2007-­2010,  returned  to  campus  on  April  22  to  begin  work  at  Emmons  Health  Center.    As  we  move  forward  with  policy  revision,  we  will  ensure  that  we  inform  our  campus  of  all  changes.  Iexpect  our  new  policy  to  incorporate  the  changes  we  have  already  put  in  place  regarding  limitations  on  thescope  of  appeal  and  protocols  for  issuing  email  alerts  to  notify  the  community  when  a  sexual  assault  hasbeen  reported.  Immediate  ActionsWe  have  authorized  the  addition  of  a  Title  IX  Coordinator  as  a  full-­time,  professional  position  reportingdirectly  to  the  President,  effective  immediately.  Dean  Avery,  Senior  Associate  Dean  O’Neal  Howard  and  Iall  agree  that  a  separate,  independent  position  -­-­  as  is  found  on  other  campuses  -­-­  will  provide  the  kind  ofoversight  required.  A  national  search  begins  immediately,  with  the  goal  of  having  a  new  person  in  placethis  fall.  In  the  meantime,  we  will  move  quickly  to  name  an  interim  coordinator  who  will  lead  the  College’sefforts  over  the  summer  months.We  created  an  anonymous  suggestion  box  to  solicit  comments  about  sexual-­assault  issues  from  anyonein  the  campus  community.  Comments  from  the  suggestion  box  will  go  directly  to  Gina  and  Leslie  and  willinform  their  review.  We  will  continue  to  use  the  anonymous  suggestion  box  as  a  platform  for  commentsand  feedback  after  the  work  of  our  consultants  is  completed.In  light  of  recent  concerns  about  the  role  played  by  legal  counsel,  Carl  Botterud  has  voluntarily  recusedhimself  from  providing  advice  or  guidance  on  any  matters  related  to  sexual  harassment  or  misconductcases.  I  agree  that  this  decision  is  in  the  best  interest  of  the  College  at  this  time.  The  College  will  relyupon  a  local  attorney  who  will  serve  as  interim  outside  counsel  with  respect  to  these  matters.  
  • 2. May-­JuneWe  will  create  a  structured  sexual-­assault  program  at  Orientation  that  reflects  our  revised  policies  andprocedures.  We  will  incorporate  the  work  of  the  Sexual  Assault  Task  Force  and  solicit  the  activeparticipation  of  our  advocate,  Naddia,  OSAC,  Occidental  Men  Against  Rape  (OMAR),  Project  SAFE  andother  groups.We  will  begin  the  evaluation  of  platforms  for  a  24-­hour,  seven-­day-­a-­week  sexual-­assault  hotline  and  animplementation  plan  to  have  it  in  place  this  fall.I  will  join  members  of  senior  leadership  in  Peace  Over  Violence  training  to  improve  our  understanding  ofsexual-­assault  issues.  July-­AugustWe  will  complete  a  comprehensive  revision  of  sexual-­misconduct  policies  and  procedures.    This  revision,which  is  already  underway,  will  incorporate  OSAC’s  12  Demands,  the  excellent  research  contained  in  its80-­point  matrix,    as  well  as  the  work  of  Gina  and  Leslie.  The  goal  is  to  have  a  new  policy  in  place  by  thebeginning  of  the  fall  semester.  The  campus  community  will  then  have  the  opportunity  to  offer  feedbackand  suggestions.  September-­OctoberA  standing  committee  of  faculty,  staff  and  students  will  start  this  fall  to  regularly  review  sexual-­misconduct  policy.  Faculty  Council  has  already  agreed  to  select  faculty  members  to  serve  on  the  newcommittee.We  will  create  a  comprehensive  educational  program  that  begins  at  Orientation  and  continues  throughouteach  student’s  entire  experience  at  Oxy.  Developing  such  a  program  will  be  one  of  the  principalresponsibilities  of  the  new  Title  IX  Coordinator  in  consultation  with  the  new  standing  committee  on  sexualassault.We  will  recommit  ourselves  to  a  regular  and  consistent  training  program  for  everyone  involved  in  thecampus  response  to  sexual  assault  –  faculty,  students,  and  staff  –  to  be  led  this  fall  by  the  new  Title  IXCoordinator.Effective  this  fall,  Project  SAFE  will  have  four  programming  assistants,  double  the  current  number.I  am  convinced  that  we  will  look  back  on  2013  as  the  year  in  which  there  was  a  significant  shift  in  the  culture  ofcolleges  and  universities  across  the  country.  Community  members  are  challenging  a  culture  of  complacencytoward  sexual  assault.  Difficult  as  it  has  been,  I  am  grateful  to  OSAC  and  other  committed  community  members,including  students,  staff  and  faculty,  for  challenging  Occidental  to  do  better  -­-­  and  we  will  do  better.As  Oxy’s  president  I  am  the  person  ultimately  responsible  for  the  safety  of  all  of  our  students.  I  take  theconcerns  that  have  been  raised  by  our  community  very  seriously,  and  I  am  committed  to  dedicating  thenecessary  time  and  resources  to  make  Oxy  a  leader  on  this  issue.  We  have  a  profound  obligation  to  live  up  toour  institutional  values  in  all  aspects  of  campus  life,  and  ensure  that  Oxy  is  a  place  where  everyone  feels  safeand  valued.Sincerely,Jonathan        _______________________________________________Oxy-­faculty-­l  mailing  listOxy-­faculty-­l@oxy.edu
  • 3. http://panther.cc.oxy.edu/mailman/listinfo/oxy-­faculty-­lOccidental  College  Interim  Recommendations.pdf372K