Levin releases “campus climate” report

University President Richard Levin released the report of the Advisory Committee on Campus Climate Thursday afternoon and announced a new website describing resources for handling cases of sexual misconduct.

After finding that students did not always understand the differences between various resources on campus, the committee’s 42-page report calls on the University to communicate its stance against sexual misconduct more forcefully on campus and clarify where victims can seek help. In a seven-page response sent out with the report, Levin wrote that he supported most of its conclusions, including the need to expand the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response & Education Center and increase sexual misconduct prevention and intervention training for administrators and students.

“The Yale Corporation and I have carefully reviewed the Report’s recommendations, and we agree that there is more we can do to enhance respect and responsibility on campus,” Levin wrote in the statement.

Still, Levin differed with some of the Committee’s recommendations, including its call to ban “Sex Week at Yale” and to require all undergraduate groups to affirm in writing that they would comply with Undergraduate Regulations. Levin said that he will not allow University facilities to be used “in the service of corporate sponsors” but that the student organizers of Sex Week will have the opportunity to present a program that “might warrant continuation” of the event.

Levin convened the Advisory Committee in April to investigate the sexual culture at Yale and offer recommendations for combating sexual misconduct. Its creation came shortly after 16 students and alumnae filed a complaint March 15 with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights alleging that the University has a hostile sexual environment, though the report states that it is not intended to address the complaint or ongoing investigation. Chaired by Margaret H. Marshall LAW ’76, the four-member Committee met with more than 150 people including freshman counselors, student athletes, members of cultural groups and Greek letter organizations, and residential college deans and masters. It also held open sessions on campus and solicited additional feedback from students and alumni this past summer.

Much of the report focuses on improving awareness of Yale’s policies regarding sexual misconduct and resources that the University provides for students.

The new website compiles information about all of the resources available to students for responding to incidents of sexual misconduct, such as the newly created University-wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct, Title IX coordinators and the SHARE Center. Yale College Dean Mary Miller said the website is meant to be easy enough to navigate on a cell phone.

Carole Goldberg, who directs the SHARE Center, said the center will hire additional staff and attempt to establish itself as a well-known resource that students visit for more than just mental health counseling. The Center can also guide students through the process of filing a formal sexual misconduct complaint or seeking informal remedies to their concerns.

Following another recommendation, the University will “reinvigorate” the role of the existing Title IX coordinators on campus, who work to ensure compliance with Title IX and investigate concerns related to sexual discrimination. Yale has assigned responsibility for training these coordinators and overseeing Title IX compliance to a deputy provost, Levin said in his statement.

In addition, Faculty and administrators will also be trained in sexual misconduct prevention.

Levin said the University already launched an “extensive program” of training sessions this fall for residential college masters and deans, freshman counselors and graduate and professional school deans of student affairs. In the future, a senior administrator will lead the training, which will expand to directors of undergraduate studies, directors of graduate studies and coaches.

The report also calls for students to discuss sexual behavior throughout their careers at Yale instead of just at freshman orientation. Miller said Melanie Boyd ’90, assistant dean of academic affairs who advises the Dean’s Office on gender issues, is currently developing a sophomore training program on bystander intervention that Levin announced would begin in the spring semester.

Beyond training for individuals, the report advocates the formation of leadership councils for student organizations — such as the one currently in place for singing groups — to provide support networks among the different groups, and Levin said the expansion would begin with fraternities and sororities.

Levin said he would not necessarily act on all of the report’s recommendations. This includes the committee’s call to ban Sex Week, a biannual event which invites speakers to campus ranging from safe-sex educators to sex-toy retailers. The report states that Sex Week has lost its stated intention of sexual education and instead features “titillating displays, ‘adult’ film stars, and commercial sponsors of such material.’”

Additionally, Levin said he would not require all student groups to sign agreements to abide by Undergraduate Regulations, since he said stronger communication and enforcement are better ways to encourage compliance. Miller said that all students are expected to follow Undergraduate Regulations as a condition of their enrollment, and that requiring student group members to sign an extra affirmation creates the impression that they are held to a higher standard.

“Every Yale student — those acting in a group or individually — is equally and always responsible for complying with the Undergraduate Regulations, and there is no mixed message about that,” Miller said.

The members of the Committee are Marshall, Kimberly Goff-Crews ’83 LAW ’86, Libby Smiley ’02 and Seth Waxman LAW ’77.

Comments

  • The Anti-Yale

    “program on bystander intervention that Levin announced would begin in the spring semester.”

    Joe Paterno could have used this.

  • townieexprof

    Yes, Paul. Agree. That’s kinda the whole point. More people are involved in witnessing, being exposed to, and being peripherally involved in harassment (same as bullying in schools) than those who commit sexual harassment or are directly subjected to it–and intervention targetted to inform, educate, and empower those people makes sense and also works. Its about changing the culture.

    Like the recent overplayed TV commercial advertising I think a phone that transmits data very fast–an attractive female co-worker informs a male worker that she just got the memo he is in violation of 6 workplace rules. He replies–lecherously-with words to the effect–Yeah baby (smirk and leer), I know! She replies: make that 7. Cue to another scenario…

    Very subtle. Very effective. Very smart.

  • ldffly

    I’m seriously relieved that Pres. Levin believes that he doesn’t have to go as far as eliminating Sex Week. Whew, he saves another great Yale tradition.

  • ajglass

    Perhaps Yale should form another committee to study whether the decline in moral values, the rise of the nanny state and the general coarsening of the culture would be a worthy candidate for a freshmen seminar.

    Andy Glass ’57

    • bcrosby

      Ever heard of Directed Studies?

      • River_Tam

        This is an off-topic response to an off-topic response (hint: DS is not about the decline of moral values), but frankly, Directed Studies is a joke. It’s an exercise in freshman intellectual masturbation and a game of ever-escalating pretension.

        If DS wanted to have real impact, it would be the same subject matter over all two years, and professors would be escalatingly harsh with their grading. The utter crap that passes for ‘writing’ in that program is just horrifying.

        Trying to fly through the “Western Canon” at the speed that DS does (a week or two on the Bible, leaving out Hamlet, the abysmal H&P curriculum) is just a travesty.

        Imagine a program where you can spend an entire semester on a unified study of the Greeks (spanning History/Politics, Philosophy, Literature), then another on the Romans, then another on Christian thought, then another on Enlightenment-Present. That program would be so much better than the crapfest that is DS.

        • River_Tam

          (You could also group the canon by Harold Bloom’s classification scheme ie: “Theocratic, Aristocratic, Democratic, Chaotic”)

        • croncor

          (River Tam, you are my hero.)

          Other than recommending a move towards being St. John’s, you’re right about DS. It’s over-ambitious and ends up giving a bunch of self-satisfied liberal prigs the mistaken notion that they’ve “mastered” the “Western Canon” and are therefore dialectically “beyond” it. I don’t remember anyone in DS ever giving a coherent account of what exactly DS was trying to do, but I doubt that most DS profs could frame the program as being anything more than (1) a useful tool for building up a bibliography or (2) a purely formal exercise in “entering into” the thought of a collection of “great thinkers” in order to “master their thought”. Forgive the conservative cliché, but what does DS have to do with truth? 90% of the students no longer think in a way conducive to learning from the authors. Most of the discussions I remember amounted to a Jeffersonian revision party: “what do we need to strike out in order to make this text acceptable?” But with such a motley gathering of writers, who can blame students for responding this way? The idea of a foundational canon of texts is borrowed from the medievals, who studied the Fathers and Philosophers as guides to be trusted on the road toward Truth. But most authors on the syllabus are headed in wildly divergent directions, so that the program ultimately reinforces the groundless confusion of contemporary academic life, reducing the life of the mind to a flurry of over-specialized studies with no point and little self-criticism, merely for the sake of originality.

        • penny_lane

          Wow, River, something else we agree on!

    • poliscidude

      Are you trying to say Welfare state?

      • River_Tam

        Have you really never heard the term “nanny state”?

  • River_Tam

    > The report states that Sex Week has lost its stated intention of sexual education and instead features “titillating displays, ‘adult’ film stars, and commercial sponsors of such material.’”

    A regular detective, that one is.

  • attila

    The report has an unintentionally funny sentence. It says students should expect to see sexual misconduct punished in the way other misconduct is punished.

    I am sure they meant misconduct SHOULD be punished. But as far as I can tell, there is no meaningful sanction for any kind of misconduct at Yale. So by saying sexual misconduct should be punished in the same way…

  • River_Tam

    > But as far as I can tell, there is no meaningful sanction for any kind of misconduct at Yale. So by saying sexual misconduct should be punished in the same way…

    Yup. The problem with Yale’s handling of sexual misconduct is really just a problem with its handling of misconduct across the board. Heck, they let Casper come back.

  • concerned

    Hell no, he won’t go.

  • SY

    What traning sessions and rules does the committee propose for professors, administrators and researchers? The two claims released by the Title IX lawyers/complainants concerned faculty/researchers and female students. Any relationship/advance between university employees and undergraduates ends up as sexual misconduct or harassment, unless first disclosed and waived. (Grad students may need different rules.) The university cannot stop a few undergrads from all bad sexual decisions, but it can stop itself.

    • River_Tam

      > What traning sessions and rules does the committee propose for professors, administrators and researchers? The two claims released by the Title IX lawyers/complainants concerned faculty/researchers and female students.

      Training isn’t going to help these people. Some people just do bad things – it’s not like the faculty members didn’t know what they were doing was wrong.

      The only thing the university needs to do to faculty members is fire them if they behave inappropriately. They should know better – they don’t need to sit through a seminar telling them not to sexually assault to their coworkers and subordinates.

      • attila

        The faculty already do sexual harassment training. Most of the accusations are student-on-student, as are ALL of those that amount to forcible rape. Releasing the incidents involving faculty was just a ploy to make Yale look bad. Everyone knows that 99 percent of the problem is that student A and student B get drunk and have sex, even though neither is in a position to give consent.

        • River_Tam

          @atilla – I agree that the frequency of student-on-student misconduct is greater, but the faculty ones are much easier to police. They should be the slam-dunks.

  • tm

    I hope that nothing like Penn State’s cover-up ever happened at Yale…