Panel addresses sexual misconduct resources

The panel, hosted by the Yale Women’s Center and Communication and Consent Educators, addressed student concerns about the process for handling charges of sexual misconduct.
The panel, hosted by the Yale Women’s Center and Communication and Consent Educators, addressed student concerns about the process for handling charges of sexual misconduct. Photo by Nitika Khaitan.

After an account of a rape written by a former Amherst College student went viral online last week, Communication and Consent Educators and the Women’s Center hosted an event to clarify Yale’s sexual assault reporting services.

The informal panel discussion featured SHARE Center Director Carole Goldberg, University-Wide Committee Chair Michael Della Rocca, Yale Police Department Lieutenant William Kraszewski and University Title IX Coordinator and Deputy Provost Stephanie Spangler. The panelists described the functions and services of their respective organizations before an audience consisting of nine students, six of whom were CCEs and one of whom was a student representative on the UWC.

Though the event immediately preceded an email Spangler sent to the student body requesting student input into the effectiveness of the University’s sexual assault reporting services, Spangler told the News her email was not related to the panel.

“I hope [the panel] will be one of many opportunities to meet with students to answer questions and hear their ideas regarding the University’s efforts to prevent and address sexual misconduct,” Spangler said in an email Monday evening. “Planning for the campus climate assessment has been underway for quite some time, and, in accordance with that planning, the release of the email to the University community was scheduled to occur before the fall break.”

In her email to the Yale community yesterday, Spangler requested that students send her office feedback about the usefulness and effectiveness of sexual misconduct reporting and counseling services at Yale. The call for student input is part of a second assessment of Yale’s campus climate, following an initial report released by the Advisory Committee on Campus Climate in September 2011.

Though Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Melanie Boyd ’90 said in a Monday email that the panel discussion was not intended to respond directly to the Amherst student’s account, she said the event’s organizers felt the widespread impact of the account created an opportunity to hold the panel.

“In the wake of the Amherst story, the CCEs and the Women’s Center board members found themselves in a lot of conversations about how we handle sexual misconduct reports at Yale,” Boyd said. “They asked if they could hold an info session quickly, while these questions are in the air.”

At the beginning of the discussion, the panelists compared the various on-campus resources available to victims of sexual misconduct.

In addition to SHARE, which handles anonymous reports, and police reports, students can file formal or informal sexual misconduct complaints before the UWC and informal complaints with University Title IX coordinators, Spangler said. The difference, Spangler explained, is that the UWC uses formal procedures involving outside fact-finders.

Zola Chihombori Quao ’13, a CCE in Morse, asked panelists to address student concerns that Yale processes for handling sexual misconduct are unfair to defendants.

Della Rocca said the independent investigators that handle sexual misconduct cases are neutral, adding that respondents to complaints also have access to advisors throughout the complaint process.

Emily Hong ’14, a Pierson CCE, asked administrators to discuss the training offered to Yale faculty and raised concerns that complainants might be re-vicitimized during the complaint process by having to repeat their story multiple times. Boyd said standard training for residential college deans includes strategies that ensure students do not have to tell their stories repeatedly. The SHARE Center allows the complainant to decide whether or not details are shared with Title IX Coordinators and the UWC so that students can avoid repetition, Goldberg said.

Spangler said a guide has been developed for professors on ways to respond if approached by a student with a sexual misconduct complaint.

Boyd said she hopes the discussion will send a message to the community that there are always resources available to address student concerns, adding that the short notice of the event and the upcoming break may have precluded a large turnout.

Spangler’s office will be accepting input for the campus climate reassessment until Nov. 16, 2012.

Correction: Oct. 24

A previous version of this article inaccurately described the role of Title IX coordinators. It also inaccurately paraphrased the response of administrators to Emily Hong’s ’14 question regarding the training offered to Yale faculty.

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