In late December, Amelia Boyle wrote a letter to me addressing her rape on campus during her freshman year. Presented with such a heavy piece, as a publication we felt the need to investigate and explore the University’s policies regarding issues concerning sexual assault. Due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, administrators, or anyone involved, could not answer any questions regarding Amelia’s case specifically. However, I believe it is important to applaud and admire the bravery this piece wields, and the voice it gives to those who feel they have none.
Jonathan Garcia, Editor-in-Chief
The United States Department of Justice defines Title IX as “a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity.” Title IX is considered a ‘living document’, due to significant changes chronicling the progress of gender equality in America since its origins in 1972. It wasn’t until recently that universities across the nation began to appoint Title IX Coordinators, a position designed to enforce the document’s guidelines in order to protect against sex based discrimination that the Department of Education’s office of Civil Rights created. Ruben Robles, a conduct officer, Senior Associate Dean, and trained Title IX Investigator at the University of Redlands explained this evolution:
“Title IX was supposed to be in effect in 2001.” Robles said. “Colleges didn’t really pay too much attention to it, until the ‘Dear Colleague’ letter came out in 2010 and basically said that you, being the institution, have to do x, y, and z.”
[Editor’s Note: The ‘Dear Colleague’ letter came out in 2011.]
During the summer of 2014, Dr. Leslie Krafft switched positions at the University of Redlands from a conduct officer to the Deputy Title IX Coordinator. Dr. Krafft is one of three Deputy Title IX Coordinators on campus, and specifically works with reports within the College of Arts and Sciences. With the implementation of a Title IX Coordinator, the nature in which sexual assault and violence cases are facilitated within the University has changed.
Dr. Krafft works to ensure that all parties, both the complainant and respondent, receive all the information available and understand the resources at their disposal. While Dr. Krafft does not investigate cases, she does oversee the process of each case of sexual misconduct reported. After an investigation on behalf of two Title IX investigators has been conducted, who are employed through the university, Dr. Krafft evaluates whether the case should move forward. Another key addition to investigations is the full time hiring of general counsel to advise on cases.
In recent years, emphasis has been placed upon empowering survivors of cases through deference, which is the ability to help choose consequences for the respondent. Part of Dr. Krafft’s job is to make the final decision regarding the respondent’s situation, combined with the input of the survivor. Full deference for survivors used to be (before the 2014-2015 school year) university policy, however Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder along with other health issues that arise when one is responding to trauma, can make this choice difficult for survivors. Instead, Dr. Krafft now works to weigh the options and support the community.
Dr. Krafft also manages the ‘grievance procedures,’ which is a set of procedures to make sure survivors have a healthy educational environment on campus. For example, no-contact orders are often organized so that neither the complainant or respondent see each other. Suspension is often a punishment settled upon.
“In most incidences, if the person is found responsible for non-consensual sexual intercourse, which is rape, then they would be suspended.” Dr. Krafft stated, “Normally at least through the amount of time that the student is here. But this is case by case basis.”
When asked why rapists don’t get expelled right away if found guilty, Dr. Krafft said:
“The reason why we don’t go straight to expulsion is because we are balancing being developmental with being punitive, and I think one of the benefits of not totally expelling someone–because we can say ‘you need to do all of these things if you ever want to come back here’–is getting treatment, going to counseling, and those type of things. And so, if they really want to graduate from this institution, and they’re willing to wait until that other student has graduated, and they’re willing to do all of these things to show that they have worked on themselves; if we just expelled them, we just release them into the world as they are and we can’t really enforce any other consequences.”
2015 was a turbulent year for protection against gender discrimination and sexual violence in higher education. Three students at the University of Notre Dame reported attacks within the first week of school. A University of Stanford swimmer withdrew from school, and faced federal charges for raping an intoxicated female on campus. The Association of American Universities released a study investigating sexual assault on college campuses; 27.2 percent of female college seniors reported that they had unwanted sexual conduct over the course of their four years. This problem is not a new issue, however the fair amount of media coverage it is receiving is perhaps the new aspect, as Catherine Mackinnon, adviser on the Title IX lawsuit Alexander v. Yale, claims:
“What has mainly improved since then — to which the recent initiatives to investigate complaints seriously by the government and impose sanctions is a response — is the willingness of survivors to stand and fight for themselves,” MacKinnon told The Huffington Post in an interview.
Universities are under higher scrutiny than ever to address such problems. Sexual assault is being understood as an institutional issue. However, facilitating these cases can be fragile for all involved. As Ruben Robles points out:
“Administrators are held accountable. ‘You should know better, you should know this, you should do this’ and yet we have no say in how the process unfolded. Let me use a better example; your Mom and Dad don’t have any say in you speeding down the freeway, because they’re not with you. They’re not in the car, they’re not pressing the gas or working the steering wheel, and yet you got a ticket. And this is the analogy I would draw–the police pull you over and give you a ticket, the cop did his job. The outcome is that you have to pay the ticket. It’s like you getting mad at your Mom and Dad, ‘Well you should have told me better, you should have trained me better, you should have said how the police are going to catch me.’ I’m not equating it to sexual assault. I’m talking about an institution. Students say to administrators, ‘you should have done this better’, yet we had nothing to do with how you made your decision, but we are held accountable for your ticket.”
Drew Faust, President of Harvard, had this to say regarding the data from the Association of American Universities survey,
“The results warrant the attention and concern of everybody in our community. Sexual assault is intolerable, and we owe it to one another to confront it openly, purposefully and effectively. This is our problem.”
Dr. Krafft reflected upon why sexual assault seems to be such a prevalent problem amongst colleges.
“Sexual assault is usually a power related event. Not just a sex thing, not that people really want to have sex; it’s that people want to dominate someone–a kind of machismo. Masculinity can be a challenge. In the United States, we don’t talk about sex all that much in a way that is healthy and educational for children.”
Though the University could not comment on any case-specific information under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Char Burgess, Vice President and Dean of Student Life wanted to make clear:
“The whole reason all of us are in student life is to support and advocate for students. We always do our utmost to advocate for students in every situation.”