In his letter on April 6, 2015, President Lee Pelton updated the Emerson community on the significant progress made on several initiatives that the College introduced last fall in an ongoing effort to shape an Emerson community free of sexual misconduct, violence, and abusive relationships. Emerson has taken the following measures based on recommendations from the College’s Title IX Task Force and the external review by Margolis Healy:
- Brought Margolis Healy specialists to our campus to conduct Title IX training for key staff members;
- Implemented a new unified Sexual Misconduct Policy;
- Appointed the College’s first full-time Title IX and Clery Act coordinator, expanding this position from half-time to a full-time dedicated position;
- Moved from a judicial board hearing model to a single investigator model for the adjudication of cases involving sexual assault, intimate partner violence, domestic violence, and stalking in order to reduce the re-traumatization of survivors, support the timely resolution of cases, and ensure fairness and consistency in the disciplinary process; and
- Launched a biennial campus climate survey to assess the community’s knowledge of policies and resources related to sexual assault, students’ attitudes about prevention, and their perceptions about how the College is addressing the problem of sexual violence.
A second survivor advocate in Violence Prevention and Response (VPR) was hired in October 2014. VPR, which was established in spring 2014, provides advocacy and support to anyone who has been impacted by power-based interpersonal violence (including sexual assault and harassment, stalking and threats, and abusive relationships and bullying) and leads the implementation of primary prevention strategies and education. To date, VPR has provided enhanced training for 1,200 Emerson community members and coordinated 128 outreach activities.
In keeping with best practices for the development of sexual assault prevention education programs, the College conducted a campus-wide climate survey. (Note: results of the Emerson360: Campus Climate Survey were made available on April 23, 2015.) The student survey included questions related to sexual assault and other forms of power-based interpersonal violence. Emerson is one of two colleges in Greater Boston to do so, and among a very limited number of colleges and universities nationwide to have conducted climate surveys.
Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Sylvia Spears and Director of Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Robert Amelio will lead several small-group discussions about the survey in the weeks to come. They will continue to analyze data from the surveys this summer, with the goal of establishing working groups that will develop action plans to address opportunities for improvement. Betsy Facher Rauch, the newly appointed interim full-time Title IX coordinator, and Melanie Matson, director of VPR, will co-lead the working group that will examine the results of the student climate survey related to Title IX and determine the actions needed based on the survey responses.
Emerson is steadfast and unwavering in its commitment to put into place best practices to prevent and respond to sexual assault and power-based violence that will make a real difference on our campus and serve as a model for others. More information and details can be found at Emerson’s Response to Title IX.