Organizing for Survivors' Title IX Policy Change Demands

Editor’s Note: On March 4, 2018, Organizing for Survivors (O4S), a group of over 65 survivors and allies, gathered to draft a list of demands for Title IX policy change at Swarthmore College. On March 19, 2018, at 12:15pm in Parrish Hall, O4S read these demands aloud and then delivered them by hand to President Valerie Smith. Below is their list of demands, exactly as written and read by O4S.

OVERARCHING DEMANDS:

We, as a group of survivors and allies, have come together to demand immediate, structural and transformative change to the ways Swarthmore College addresses sexual violence on campus. We have identified the ways the College mishandles, through its policies and procedures, Title IX complaints as well as support services. We have identified the inequity, ineffectiveness and violence facilitated and enabled by various institutions on campus, including the fraternities and Public Safety. We have identified the specific administrators who engage dishonestly and disingenuously with students, who perpetuate these practices, and who systematically prevent meaningful change.

Therefore, we are demanding immediate and comprehensive change that takes a variety of forms and works on every level of College policy. We are demanding Swarthmore College realize its professed commitment to justice, equity, and social change.

We are demanding that Swarthmore protect survivors, hold perpetrators accountable, and prevent sexual violence to the degree it is possible.

In establishing and sharing these demands, we expect a timely and thorough response from the College regarding each demand. We expect immediate action, and a plan to enact change written and submitted to the student body in the name of President Smith and the College within one week from the date these demands were delivered, March 19, 2018. For each of the demands outlined below, we expect the College and President Smith to release a written explanation of how they are responding (i.e. if they are meeting the demand, how so, and if they are not, why not).

We demand a restructuring of Title IX policy and procedures to create a system that protects survivors and facilitates justice.

  • Swarthmore must, by the start of the 2018-2019 school year, have fully transitioned to an investigative adjudication process for all formal complaints, rather than the current hearing-based, model.

  • Swarthmore must cut ties with external adjudicators who have, in the course of their work with the college, violated students’ rights, and must cease the practice of hiring retired judges.

  • Swarthmore must clarify and make public the training requirements for investigators, relevant staff, and external adjudicators and ensure that such training is trauma-informed and sensitive to the needs of queer and non-binary students. The college must prohibit inappropriate and victim-blaming questions at all points during the investigative process and hold staff members who engage in these lines of questioning accountable.

  • Swarthmore must ensure that our right for Title IX proceedings to not exceed 60 days is protected. The college must increase staff accountability to students when delays occur by ensuring that the students involved are appropriately notified of the delay and why it occurred.

  • Swarthmore must appropriately prepare and support all witnesses to be involved in the investigative process. Witnesses must be given the opportunity to meet with an advocate, and attain relevant academic and supportive accommodations.

  • Swarthmore must limit the length of all in-person procedures, such as investigative interviews, not to exceed a few hours.

  • Swarthmore must extend the appeal window to allow adequate time for survivors to acquire additional advice and support.

  • Swarthmore must ensure that the conditions of sanctions are detailed, enforceable, and appropriately severe. Swarthmore must add a section to their sexual harassment and assault policy that defines the minimum and maximum disciplinary action possible for respondents found guilty of specific types of sexual violence.  The college must also clarify and make public the process of reapplication for students found responsible.

  • Swarthmore must mandate specific, formal behavioral change and counseling programs for all perpetrators found responsible--including those previously found responsible who still attend or will return to Swarthmore College. Returning to school and remaining in school must be contingent on the respondent’s successful completion of such a program, and continued enrollment in such a program if deemed necessary by the program’s professionals at the time of re-enrollment.  

  • Swarthmore must mandate that any student who is found responsible for violating a TIX policy and decides to transfer to another school disclose their standing with the College, and must list their standing to any copy of their official transcript.

We demand viable interim measures that meaningfully ensure survivors’ comfort and safety while limiting the ability of perpetrators to continue harm.

  • Swarthmore must prohibit any student who is not in good standing with the college (currently on probation or suspension) or who has been identified as a respondent within the College’s sexual assault and sexual harassment adjudication process from serving  in a position of power at the College. Such individuals will be removed from any Residential Peer Leader (RA, DPA, GA, SHA) positions or TA positions they already hold, and prohibited from applying in the future.

  • Swarthmore must add clear enforcement mechanisms and consequences for non-adherence to their policy on contact restrictions.

  • Swarthmore must institute a policy that any student who is not in good standing with the college (currently on probation or suspension) or who has been identified as a respondent within the College’s sexual assault and sexual harassment adjudication process is placed on social probation as an interim measure, until the resolution of the complaint. Social probation must prohibit attendance in registered social events as well as prohibit involvement in fraternities, sororities, or other specific programs or groups.  Allow for interim suspension to be considered in cases where ongoing danger is present.

  • Swarthmore must change its policy on contact restrictions and any disciplinary measures so that they do not require the agreement of the person who caused harm.

We demand that “good standing with the college” be a formal condition of involvement with the College through positions of power/leadership or interactions as alumni.

  • Swarthmore must change the hiring process for Residential Peer Leaders as well as Teaching Assistants to include clearance through the Title IX office that there have been no complaints made against candidates.

  • Swarthmore must stop extending invitations to return to campus, whether for Alumni Weekend, class reunions, or opportunities to speak on panels or give talks to any alumni who have had complaints made against them.

We demand education and supportive services for survivors and all students that ensure our wellbeing.

  • Swarthmore must provide an external lawyer or legal advocate for survivors, whether through a College-hired advocate or through pro-bono resources. All Swarthmore staff must cease the practice of discouraging survivors from legal counsel as long as respondents are encouraged to utilize a lawyer through formal procedures.

  • Swarthmore must hire a specific CAPS staff member to provide support for survivors who choose or do not choose to pursue further options. All CAPS therapists must be trained in trauma-informed survivor support as well as trained in Title IX policies.

  • Swarthmore must update the CAPS website with a list of staff members and their specific training in this area so students can make informed decisions about support.

  • Swarthmore must inform all students during Orientation of their complete Title IX rights, including thorough and clear information on the processes of making a report and filing a complaint. Our consent education must be in-depth, ongoing, trauma-informed, and sensitive to the needs of queer and non-binary students.

We demand an end to the dangerous structure of fraternity housing on campus.

  • Swarthmore must remove students living in the fraternities immediately and relocate them to regular campus housing. By the start of the 2018-2019 school year, the college must terminate its leases with Phi Psi and Delta Upsilon and rename and democratize the buildings they currently lease so that any student or student group can host events there.

  • Swarthmore must begin a thorough, formal, and transparent process of examining whether the existence of fraternity organizations on campus is aligned with Swarthmore’s professed values of inclusion and justice.

We demand individual staff changes and changes in institutional policy.

  • We demand the resignation of Dean of Students Liz Braun, for her historic and ongoing unwillingness to meaningfully respond to student concerns about policy and practice, as well as her past inappropriate conduct as a participant in the adjudication of Title IX cases other failures to protect students.

  • We demand the resignation of Associate Dean of Students Nathan Miller, for his historic and ongoing enabling of Title IX violations and policy mishandling during adjudication processes.

  • We demand the resignation of Associate Director for Investigations Beth Pitts, for her historic and ongoing mistreating and disbelieving of survivors and ineffective overseeing of the office as a whole.

  • Swarthmore must release the findings of the external review of the Dean’s Office to the student body.

  • We demand that Michelle Ray, who previously served as Case Manager for accused students and currently serves as the Interim Title IX Coordinator, must no longer be involved in the Title IX Office.  Her ability to serve students in these roles has been compromised by the College’s mishandling of her transition between these roles.

  • Swarthmore must conduct an external review of Public Safety as a whole, for the ways in which the office continues to mishandle Title IX concerns and disproportionately mistreat women, students of color, and queer and trans students.

  • Students must be informed on the processes of reporting and holding accountable staff members, including Public Safety officers. Accountability mechanisms for Public Safety must not solely be internal, as in determined by Public Safety itself.

  • We require timely and thorough written response from all parties involved in the Title IX processes.

We demand a formal apology by Swarthmore College to the many students it has harmed and retraumatized through its negligence, misconduct, and wrongdoings.

  • Swarthmore College, as an institution, must formally take responsibility and admit to its wrongdoing in the name of restorative justice and accountability. We call for a formal, public, and letter by President Smith and signed by all involved in the Title IX process, including but not limited to Dean Braun, Dean Miller, and Michelle Ray, acknowledging this harm and committing to immediate transformation of the structures that have created it.


explore related articles