Administrators have launched a new website detailing the resources available for students responding to cases of discrimination and harassment on campus.
University Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews announced the website, which is titled “Student Discrimination and Harassment Reporting & Response,” in a University-wide email Monday afternoon. Its creation follows demands from student activists last semester for clearer mechanisms to address behavior that may violate the University’s nondiscrimination policies, as well as a Nov. 17 email from University President Peter Salovey titled “Toward a Better Yale” promising to do just that.
Goff-Crews told the News that the website’s launch is just the first phase of the administration’s response to student demands for anti-discrimination procedures. In the second phase, the administration will continue to review existing procedures over the course of this semester. It will also consider importing successful mechanisms from other universities and developing new methods of its own. Additionally, Goff-Crews said administrators have enlisted the help of leaders in the Yale College Council, the Graduate Student Assembly and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate to better incorporate student voices into the process.
“This new website marks another step in our work [to make Yale a more inclusive place],” Goff-Crews wrote in her email. “You will find information on reporting, seeking guidance and advice and resolving situations that raise concerns about discrimination or harassment. Trained staff will assist students with their options.”
Sectioned off according to different possible scenarios that could lead to student complaints, the website provides information about informal and formal processes for reporting, as well as how to discuss and file different types of complaints about discrimination and harassment. It also explains University policies as well as state and federal laws and provides links to existing campus resources, such as the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response & Education Center and the Mental Health & Counseling department.
Among the formal procedures that students can pursue are the Dean’s Procedure for Student Complaints, through which a student can lodge a complaint against a faculty member or administrator of his or her school, and the Provost’s Procedure for Student Complaints, through which a student can make a complaint against a faculty member or administrator of another school. Students are encouraged to contact the Office for Equal Opportunity Programs, headed by director Valarie Stanley, to formally complain about acts of discrimination besides sexual harassment that are perpetrated by other students. A fourth venue — the President’s Procedure for Addressing Students’ Complaints of Racial or Ethnic Harassment — is reserved for students who wish to make a complaint against any member of the Yale community. Interviews conducted by the News in December showed that students were largely unaware of these existing procedures.
“The new website is an important step in widening the channels of communication between students and administrators,” University Deputy Press Secretary Karen Peart told the News. “The site is meant to provide all students with information on reporting, seeking guidance and advice, and resolving situations that raise concerns about discrimination or harassment. Student leaders are an integral part of these initiatives and will continue to play a key role in our efforts.”
YCC President Joe English ’17 told the News that the website plays an important role in providing students with information and access to the available resources.
“One of the biggest barriers for students seeking action is not knowing where to turn — it’s very difficult for students to know which resources to utilize,” English said. “The website explains which ones students should be utilizing, so access to information is the biggest gain here.”
English added that the YCC works closely with the Office of the Secretary and Vice President for Student Life, and will assist Goff-Crews and other administrators going forward. One specific way the YCC can help the administration, English said, is to contact student governments at Yale’s peer institutions to see what mechanisms for addressing similar issues have worked well for them.
The website is a “great first response,” English added, and the next step for Yale administrators will be to assess the existing resources to see if they are functioning fairly and effectively. The administration has been making changes to similar processes, such as the Title IX process as well as the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct, and resources like these are constantly being altered and improved, according to English.
Highlighting the importance of including student voices in the development of these mechanisms to address discrimination and harassment, Goff-Crews included an online feedback form at the end of her email through which students can directly send their comments about the site.
“This website, and the review of policies and procedures related to reporting discrimination or harassment, are part of our University’s ongoing work toward a more inclusive Yale,” Goff-Crews wrote in her email. “I look forward to hearing from [students] as we continue to refine the website to provide clear and helpful information.”