November 26, 2018
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The Kenyon Sexual Misconduct and Harassment Policy: Title IX, VAWA, Title VII was developed during the 2014-15 academic year through intentional consultation with and input from all members of the campus community and with oversight and guidance from top professionals in the field. This policy was approved by the Campus Senate, the faculty and the Kenyon College Board of Trustees and took effect on July 1, 2015.
Prominent among changes made last year to the policy was the move to a College-wide, one-policy, one-process investigator model instead of the long-standing but outmoded hearing-board model. Under the investigator model, which is in wide use by colleges and universities, the Title IX coordinator assesses a complaint of prohibited conduct and, in consultation with the complainant, determines if an informal or formal resolution is appropriate.
If a formal resolution is appropriate, the Title IX coordinator selects two highly trained and impartial investigators — at least one a College employee — to examine a complaint and determine if the policy was violated. Investigators conduct interviews and gather evidence. The person making the complaint and the person responding to the complaint have an equal opportunity to be heard, to submit questions to the investigators to be asked of the other person, to submit evidence and to identify witnesses. The person making the complaint and the person responding to the complaint are not in the same room at the same time during the process.
If investigators determine that a violation of the policy has occurred — based on a preponderance of evidence — they submit their findings to an adjudicator. For students, the adjudicator is typically the director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities; for faculty, the provost; and for other employees, the human resources director. Sanctions for students and employees range up to dismissal, depending on a review of factors listed in the policy. The policy includes an appeals process available to both parties.
Federal law prohibits the College from sharing confidential student information and this includes refraining from sharing details involving allegations of sexual assault. The College respects the law and also respects the privacy and confidentiality of all students and employees involved in the Title IX process. Kenyon does not share, confirm or correct information about any case, unless the law provides an exception.
Students and employees who have experienced or witnessed sexual misconduct are encouraged to reach out to any of the many resources on campus that can offer them support. Confidential resources, including the Health and Counseling Center staff, student Sexual Misconduct Advisors, student Peer Counselors and College chaplains can offer guidance for moving forward. The Title IX coordinator and deputy coordinator and Campus Safety officers are non-confidential resources who will consider the merits of a report to law enforcement under Ohio law, and they can offer options for resolving the matter through the Title IX process. More information on resources for those experiencing sexual or physical assault may be found online in the Title IX policy. When a mandatory report to law enforcement is made, the complainant may choose whether and how to participate in a criminal investigation.
Students reporting sexual assault are offered transportation to a medical facility; professional counseling; academic support; and the options to change rooms and seek a no-contact order. Other accommodations may be offered based on the situation.
Kenyon is confident in its Sexual Misconduct and Harassment Policy: Title IX, VAWA, Title VII and procedures as well as education and prevention programs that have reached most students and employees. The goal is, of course, to reach all students and all employees.
An independent audit is an opportunity for review and possible refinement. The audit will gather feedback from all campus constituencies; evaluate Kenyon’s policy and procedures for handling cases; review Kenyon’s prevention, training and education efforts; and examine cases and related data. The audit will confidentially review case files, but the audit is not a reinvestigation and existing decisions will not be overturned.
President Sean Decatur has written a blog on the topic of Title IX called “Work to Do.” And Brackett Denniston ’69, chair of the Kenyon College Board of Trustees, has written an open letter to the Kenyon community.
The Kenyon College Board of Trustees has called for creating a special committee that will function as a working group to examine and support the Title IX policy and procedures. Among its first acts will be to recommend an independent firm to conduct the audit.
The College is obliged by the federal Clery Act to issue timely warnings regarding crimes that pose a serious or continuing threat to the campus community. The incident that was reported to the Office of Campus Safety on April 30 included the threat of an unknown assailant at large, which triggered a campus alert via text, voicemail and email.
Yes. Note that the College is not permitted to share specific details of Title IX cases.
The Clery Act security and fire safety report, which contains crime statistics, is available online. As required by federal law, crime statistics for 2015 must be reported by Oct. 1, 2016. College rules violations administered by the Student Affairs staff and the Student Conduct Review Board are included in the online Student Handbook.
As colleges and universities enhance their sexual misconduct education and prevention programs and encourage more victims to come forward, the number of reports is expected to rise to more accurately reflect sexual misconduct on campuses. More accurate reporting will help identify problem areas, bring more focus to education and prevention programming and help foster a positive change in campus culture.
The College participated in the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS) Campus Climate Survey in 2015. The results can be found online.
The survey, determined to be statistically sufficient to understanding what is happening on campus, showed that 9.8 percent of Kenyon students who responded said they were sexually assaulted either on campus or during College-sponsored off-campus events or programs. Half of the responding students believed they or their friends are at risk of being sexually assaulted.
The survey also showed that Kenyon students generally feel safe on campus and have confidence that the College cares about them and does a good job protecting them from harm. The survey revealed that 94.4 percent of respondents agreed that Kenyon’s faculty and staff are genuinely concerned about student welfare, and 80.2 percent of respondents agreed that Kenyon students feel that way about each other. Ninety-two percent feel they are valued in the learning environment, and 86.9 percent feel safe here.
Students of legal age are permitted to consume alcohol on campus and must be able to do so without fear of suffering sexual assault. Alcohol consumption neither excuses nor causes sexual assault, but the correlations between alcohol consumption and sexual assault are striking. The HEDS Campus Climate Survey mentioned above indicated that in incidents of sexual assault students believed or were unsure that alcohol was involved 75.8 percent of the time and the victim had consumed alcohol 60.6 percent of the time. The use of other drugs was mentioned 43.8 percent of the time.
Alcohol abuse is not only at least tangentially tied to sexual assault, it also results in physical injuries related to alcohol poisoning and accidents — and has been linked to the loss of a student’s life at Kenyon. President Decatur intends to launch a campuswide discussion on the abuse of alcohol on campus and its effects on student life. No education or prevention program can be effective without including direct examination of this correlation.