The University-Wide Committee surged toward completion this week, and administrators still seem to be catching up with the rapid changes.
Provost Peter Salovey announced to students yesterday a new, integrated University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct to “streamline” the sexual grievance process, but at least one of Yale’s schools is choosing to keep its independent procedures.
All but one of the current grievance boards will be phased out to make way for the University-Wide Committee, Assistant Provost for the Humanities Brian Lizotte ’00 LAW ’06 said, as the Yale Law School plans to keep its grievance board. Lizotte said he expects the Law School’s committee to act as a supplement to the University-Wide Committee and avoid “undermining” it in any way.
“I think they’re just trying to be protective of their customs and procedures,” he said.
Administrators at the Law School could not be reached for comment Thursday night.
Peter Parker, convener of the Yale College Sexual Harassment Grievance Board, said he does not think that his committee will be disbanded.
“It looks as if — from discussions with [Yale College Dean] Mary Miller — the Sexual Harassment Grievance Board will deal with informal complaints,” Parker said.
But Miller told the News that the University-Wide Committee will hear both formal and informal complaints, and that Parker’s board will be phased out during the new committee’s first year.
Parker said he worries that the new University-Wide Committee will be inundated with complaints, and could use the assistance of his committee. He also said that some undergraduates might prefer to bring complaints to a Yale College committee rather than to a larger University-Wide Committee.
Shirley McCarthy, MED ’79, co-chair of the Yale Women Faculty Forum, said the Law School should join the rest of the University and disband its committee. Relying solely upon a University-Wide Committee will allow the process of registering a complaint to be more transparent, make standards more uniform across schools and eliminate the uncomfortable situation of filing a complaint within one’s own school, McCarthy said. Laura Wexler, the other co-chair of the Yale Women Faculty Forum, said uniting all of the schools’ procedures would demonstrate that the University is serious about addressing issues of sexual misconduct. Wexler added that she thinks Yale can be a leader with among similar institutions with this new policy.
“I believe one committee, one standard [and] one statement to the University community is the way to go,” she said.
Connie Bagley, who served as chair of the Women Faculty Forum committee that recommended the creation of a University-Wide Committee in a 2009 report, said a major goal of the new committee is to create a unifying standard across the different schools.
Bagley said her committee struggled to find information about many of the schools’ procedures, so a single policy will make it easier for students to bring forward a complaint.
“We were surprised at some schools how hard it was to register a complaint,” she said.
Philosophy professor and University-Wide Committee chairman Michael Della Rocca said complainants will be able to choose between the University-Wide Committee and their school’s committee should school administrators choose to maintain their local grievance board. Even schools that choose to eliminate their smaller committees may experience overlap between their own boards and the University-Wide Committee as they disband their local options.
Plans to create a University-Wide Committee have been in the works since early 2010, but the Title IX complaint gave “added urgency” to formally establishing the body, Della Rocca said.
“It takes a long time to establish total change in how we handle these kinds of cases,” he said. “Now everyone has focused their attention on this because of the Title IX complaint.”
All seven undergraduates interviewed said they support the move to a streamlined process, though two said the individual committees should still exist in tandem. Elisa Lin ’14 said having a larger committee would make information about filing complaints more accessible to students.
“It will make it more well-known,” she said. “I didn’t know of any existing [committees] beforehand.”
Jasmine Reid ’13 said students would benefit from still keeping the smaller committees.
“For undergraduates, I don’t think [the University-Wide Committee] would be as accessible,” she said.
The University-Wide Committee will go into effect July 1.