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.

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