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Report of SMU's sexual assault task force.

Report of SMU's sexual assault task force.

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Published by Eric Nicholson
Recommendations of SMU advisory panel that outlines how the university can better handle sexual assault cases.
Recommendations of SMU advisory panel that outlines how the university can better handle sexual assault cases.

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Published by: Eric Nicholson on May 08, 2013
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SOUTHERNMETHODISTUNIVERSITYREPORTOFTHEPRESIDENT’STASKFORCEONSEXUALMISCONDUCTPOLICIESANDPROCEDURESApril22,2013
 
MessagefromtheChairtoPresidentTurner
 
Duringthepastseveralmonths,theTaskForcehasworkeddiligentlytoexamineSMU’scurrentpoliciesandproceduresconcerningsexualmisconducttodeterminewhereimprovementscouldbemade.Ourprimaryconcernwastoadoptrecommendationsthatwouldhelpensurethesafetyandwell-beingofallstudentsandtreatthemwithequalcareandfairness.TheTaskForcewascomposedofadiversegroupofmembersfromwithinandoutsidetheSMUcommunitywhoofferedawiderangeofperspectives,asdidseveralexternalexpertswhometwiththeTaskForce.Fromthesedifferentperspectives,anddrawinguponbestpracticesatuniversitiesnationwide,TaskForcemembershaveformulatedacollectivevisionthatwebelievebestservestheneedsandwell-beingofSMUstudents.TheTaskForcefoundthatSMUhasastrongcommitmentandprocedurestohelpstudentsobtainassistance,resources,andreportingoptionsindealingwiththedifficultissueofsexualmisconduct.SMUalsohasrecentlyupdatedseveralprocedurestocomplywithnewrequirementsofTitleIX,whichmandatesuniversityproceduresforinvestigatingandadjudicatingchargesofsexualmisconduct.Asaresultofitsdeliberations,theTaskForcerecommendscontinuing,clarifyingorenhancingseveralexistingproceduresandpolicies,aswellasadoptingnewmeasuresthatcanfurthercontributetoprevention,promptreportingofsexualmisconduct,resourcesforassistance,andfairtreatmentofallconcerned.Thisreportoutlinesthoserecommendations.Inaddition,TaskForcemembershopethattheSMUadministrationandcampusleadershipwillcontinuetomonitorconditionsthatmaynecessitatechangestothesepoliciesandproceduresinthefuture.MembersoftheTaskForceshouldbecommendedfortheirdedication,commitmentandmanymonthsofcarefuldeliberation.Ourgoalistosupportahealthycampusenvironmentofmutualrespectandresponsibilitythatnurturesacademicandpersonaldevelopment.
KellyCompton,TaskForceChair
 
2
Introduction
Sexualmisconductisanissueofconcernoncollegecampusesnationwide.Severaluniversitiesandgovernmentagencies–includingAmherstCollege,CaliforniaPolytechnicStateUniversitySanLuisObispo,MiamiUniversityofOhio,YaleUniversity,theCaliforniaStateGovernor’sOfficeandtheUnitedStatesDepartmentofDefense–haveappointedtaskforcesonsexualassault/sexualmisconductandproducedcomprehensivereportsontheissue.Inadditiontoreviewingthesereports,thePresident’sTaskForceonSexualMisconductPoliciesandProceduresfoundhelpfultheUniversityofNotreDameresolutionagreementwiththeU.S.DepartmentofEducation’sOfficeforCivilRights.Accordingtoa
DearColleague
Letter
1
issuedApril4,2011,bytheOfficeforCivilRightsregardingTitleIXoftheEducationAmendmentsof1972,20percentoffemalestudentsand6.1percentofmalestudentsarevictimsofcompletedorattemptedsexualassaultwhileincollege.
2
Whileacampuswithnoincidentsofsexualmisconductwouldbeideal,researchsuggeststhatalackofsexualmisconductreportsmayindicatereluctancebystudentstocomeforwardandreporttheseincidents.Giventhiscontext,SMUshouldcontinuetotakestepstopreventincidentsofsexualmisconductonourcampusandinvolvingourstudents,facilitateandencouragereportingofallcasesofsexualmisconduct,andhaveaclearlyarticulatedresponsetoreportsofsexualmisconduct.GinaSmith,anationallyrecognizedexpertoncampussexualmisconductissues,notedinanarticleintheMarch22,2013,issueof
The
ChronicleofHigherEducation
thatcollegesanduniversitiesmustnavigatea“complicatedconstellationofresponsibilities”toarriveatappropriateresponsestosexualmisconductoncampus.Smithsays:“They(collegesanduniversities)mustoffersupportandresourcestostudentswhoreportincidents,provideafairprocesstobothallegedvictimsandallegedperpetrators,complywithfederalprivacyregulations,andbalancesafetywithstudents’desireforconfidentiality.”(p.A-17)TheOfficeforCivilRights’
DearColleague
LetteroutlinestheexpectationsforcollegesanduniversitiesregardingtheirresponsestoincidentsofsexualmisconductunderTitleIX,thefederallawprohibitingdiscriminationbasedonsex.ItisofcrucialimportancethatSMU’ssexualmisconductpoliciesandproceduresalignwithfederalmandatesandstatelaws,includingtheTitleIXrequirementtoinvestigatereportsofsexualmisconductandprovideinternalgrievanceprocedures.Additionally,SMUstudents,faculty,staff,andparents,aswellaspeopleoutsidetheSMUcommunity,shouldknowhowSMUwillrespondtosuchreportsandwhatresourcesareavailable
1
Formoreinformationregardingthe
DearColleague
Letterpleaseseehttp://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/dear_colleague_sexual_violence.pdf 
2
SMUstatisticsmaybefoundinthe
SMUCleryReport 
,whichmaybeaccessedathttp://smu.edu/pd/clerystats/ASRs_Default_Page.asp
 
3tocomplainantsandrespondents.Theyalsoshouldknowthatcomplainantshavetherighttomakecertaindecisionsabouttheircaseduringaninvestigation.SMUshouldaimformodelprogramsforsexualmisconductpreventionandresponse.Tothisend,Dr.R.GeraldTurner,thePresidentofSMU,appointedtheTaskForceonSexualMisconductPoliciesandProceduresonSeptember28,2012.ThisreportoutlinestheworkoftheTaskForceandoffersrecommendationsinresponsetothePresident’scharge.
PresidentTurner’sChargetotheTaskForce
SMUiscommittedtoprovidingthebestpossiblelearningenvironmentforstudentstoachievetheireducationalandpersonalgoals.SuchanenvironmentmustsupportstudentsafetythroughUniversitypolicies,standardsofconduct,educationalprograms,andcampusresources.Towardthatend,SMUaspirestodevelopandmaintainmodelprogramsthatincludepoliciesandproceduresrelatedtosexualmisconduct.ThePresident’sTaskForceischargedwiththeoverarchinggoalofexaminingSMU’sproceduresandpoliciesincomparisonwithbenchmarkpracticestodetermineifanyupdatesorchangesareneeded,takingintoaccountadherencetostateandfederallaws,especiallyTitleIXoftheEducationActAmendments,requiringcollegesanduniversitiestoinvestigateandmaintainproceduresfordealingwithsexualassault.Suchpoliciesandproceduresalsoaimtoensurethatallstudentsaretreatedwithcareandfairness.Specifically,theTaskForceisaskedtoreviewthefollowingtodetermineifchangesoradditionsareneededtostrengthenSMU’sefforts:
 
Sexualassaultreportingprocedures,includingCleryActcomplianceandeffectivecoordinationamongcampusoffices,theSMUPoliceDepartmentandtheDallasCountyDistrictAttorney’sOffice.
 
Thestudentconductprocessasitrelatestosexualmisconduct,includingthestructureofthegrievanceprocedurerequiredbyTitleIXandthemake-upofconductreviewmechanisms.
 
Programsandresponsestoensureaharassment-freeenvironment,particularlyforthecomplainant.
 
Policiesregardingstudentswhoareaccusedofsexualmisconduct.
 
Supportservicesonandoff-campusforstudentswhoarevictimsofsexualassault.
 
Orientation,trainingandeducationprogramsforallfaculty,staffandstudents,especiallyforthosewhoserveinrolesinwhichastudentmightreportasexualassault(e.g.,residentassistants),andwhoparticipateinconductreviewactivities.

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