A task force on sexual misconduct prevention formed in the aftermath of last semester’s Delta Kappa Epsilon pledge incident has finished its report and is calling for changes to freshman orientation.
Last month, Yale College Dean Mary Miller received a report she commissioned from the Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Education and Prevention. Miller asked the group to make recommendations based on comments the Dean’s Office received after Oct. 13, when DKE pledges shouted offensive slurs on Old Campus. While Miller gave few details about the report, which she plans to release “in the near term,” she said Monday that the task force suggests a reconsideration of sexual misconduct education for freshmen.
“One of the things we’ve been working on is how we educate freshmen,” Miller said. “A number of the recommendations will focus on how we speak to freshmen and how we engage them to become citizens of Yale.”
The task force, chaired by American studies professors Alicia Schmidt Camacho and Sally Promey, met several times in November and December. Miller asked the group to explore training practices and strategies for educating students about sexual harassment and sexual violence.
“A lot of what we did was synthesizing the suggestions received by the Dean’s Office,” said Melanie Boyd ’90, a member of the task force and director of undergraduate studies for Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Boyd also serves as special adviser on gender issues for the Dean’s Office.
Boyd said the task force used the reccomendations to come up with a comprehensive plan for improvements to the University’s sexual misconduct education. She declined to comment on the details of the report, as it has not yet been released.
Camacho declined to comment on the report since it has not yet been released, and Promey did not return requests for comment.
The task force relied on the comments the Dean’s Office received from faculty and students as well as concerned alumni who contacted the office directly, Boyd said. The group actively solicited advice from specific parties in the University, she added.
“The Women’s Center board appreciates the administration’s continuing efforts to address and prevent sexual violence at Yale,” said Sally Walstrom ’12, the public relations director for the Women’s Center. The Women’s Center was one of the first campus organizations to condemn DKE’s actions when the incident occurred, and planned several panels and forums about Yale’s sexual climate in the weeks following the pledge chants.
While the task force completed its work this fall, a separate committee was simultaneously examining the University’s sexual misconduct policies. A committee chaired by philosophy professor Michael Della Rocca was established to evaluate the recommendations of Della Rocca’s previous Sexual Misconduct Committee. That group considered recommendations in the Women Faculty Forum’s 2009 report on sexual misconduct at Yale.
Della Rocca’s first committee formally recommended that the University create one centralized body to address cases of sexual misconduct in lieu of the many boards operating independently in each of Yale’s schools. The committee is now looking into options for implementing this concept, Della Rocca said in an interview with the News in October.
Boyd said the task force’s work serves as a complement to the Della Rocca committee’s work, since the task force addressed education and community responses instead of formal disciplinary procedures.
In the wake of the DKE pledge controversy, Miller also appointed the Committee on Initiations and Hazing, chaired by Silliman Master Judith Krauss. In an e-mail to students Jan. 7, Miller said the committee is expected to submit its final report this spring.