November 10th, 2011 | University

Levin releases report on campus climate

In an email to the campus on Thursday, University President Richard Levin announced the release of a report calling on the University to take a stronger stance against sexual misconduct.
In an email to the campus on Thursday, University President Richard Levin announced the release of a report calling on the University to take a stronger stance against sexual misconduct. Photo by YDN.

University President Richard Levin released the full report of the Advisory Committee on Campus Climate this afternoon and announced the launch of a new website with resources for dealing with sexual misconduct.

The report calls on the University to take a stronger stance against sexual misconduct, by making it clear that sexual misconduct will not be tolerated and clarifying the avenues victims can turn to for help. It endorses the creation of the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct (UWC) to handle sexual misconduct complaints and says Yale administrators as well as student leaders should work to condemn instances of sexual misconduct and communicate more strongly Yale’s commitment to an environment that is “respective and supportive of all.”

In a statement in response to the report, Levin outlined how the University intends to deal with the recommendations. He said the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Education Center (SHARE) will expand its services and take on additional staff. However, he said the University will not follow a recommendation in the report to create an ombudsman at the University for receiving anonymous reports of misconduct.

Levin said he agrees with the report’s recommendation that the UWC communicate its actions, including any penalties it imposes, to the wider community once a semester. Yale will also seek to better communicate the role of Title IX Coordinators on campus. The University’s new website on sexual misconduct is an effort to clarify the resources available to students, which fits with the report’s recommendation of better communication, Levin said in the statement.

The report calls for “Sex Week at Yale” to be prohibited from campus, saying it has lost its stated intention of sexual education and instead features “titillating displays, ‘adult’ film stars, and commercial sponsors of such material.’” But Levin said in his response that he will allow the student organizers to “propose a program for next semester that might warrant continuation of this event on campus.”

The report also recommends that education about sexual misconduct continue beyond freshman orientation. To that end, a program for sophomores will start in the spring of 2012, Levin said.

The four members of the Advisory Committee — Chair Margaret H. Marshall LAW ’76, Seth P. Waxman LAW ’77, Kimberly M. Goff-Crews ’83 LAW ’86 and Elizabeth Smiley ’02 — met with over 150 people at Yale last April and spoke with current students and alumni over the summer to discuss Yale’s sexual climate in Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago and San Francisco. In a campus-wide email to students on April 15, Levin said he asked the Committee for advice on combating sexual misconduct at Yale and creating a community where students are safe and feel “well-supported.” He added that he would meet with the Committee after it completes its recommendations and review the report with the Yale Corporation before releasing it publicly.

The Committee was formed shortly after 16 current and former students filed a Title IX complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights against the University alleging that it has a hostile sexual environment, though the report states that it is not a response to the investigation.