Resident Assistant (RA) Letter of Support for Organizing for Survivors' Title IX Policy Demands
As Residential Assistants (RAs) we fully affirm our support for Organizing for Survivors (O4S) and stand in solidarity demanding the changes to Title IX policies put forth to Swarthmore College on March 19, 2018. We, as college employees, want to hold the College accountable to those it has wronged.
We specifically would like to highlight issues within the residential peer leader (RPL) hiring processes. As peer leaders, we set a precedent for acceptability. We must ask how our employers hire peers who have violated college policy and have harmed the community. We want to call into question the integrity of the Office of Student Engagement (OSE) and the Dean’s Division at large, a division that has failed to communicate with survivors, be transparent about their policies, and protect students in their peer leader selection processes.
As it currently stands, the actions of accused and responsible respondents have little to no impact on their qualification to apply for, become, and remain community leaders. As we have found this year, this is especially dangerous and triggering for prospective applicants who are required to participate in group interviews and encounter their perpetrator without warning. We demand policies that are proactive rather than reactive to Title IX cases, and that are sensitive to the impacts these policies have within our Swarthmore community. Proactive policies would protect survivors during the application process and preserve their agency, as per the demands set forth by O4S.
RAs hold influential roles within our community that confer responsibility. Alongside being mandatory Title IX reporters, RAs are expected to support residents emotionally and otherwise. Having perpetrators of violence serve in such an important role in the community undermines the trust and emotional relationships community members should be able to have with their RAs.
We echo and reiterate the words of the DPAs:
We refuse to be part of the legacy of employees protecting the institution that employs them in the face of the historic and continuing injustice it perpetuates. Swarthmore College must answer for its unjust and harmful policies; we refuse to blindly uphold them. Our duty to people will always outweigh our duty to the institutions that consolidate power. We are committed only to protecting survivors, and never the institution that has wronged them.
We, as Residential Assistants, are tasked with being role models, and are responsible for fostering a strongly supportive and inclusive community at Swarthmore. As such, we are committed to being leaders who speak up when community needs are going unheard and unmet. The problems with the Title IX system are systemic within our community. It is essential for us to listen to those harmed and take collective action to enact change. We encourage you to join us in whatever role you play in our community, as student, faculty, or staff, in refusing to further perpetuate these harms and actively holding Swarthmore accountable for how it has failed its students.
In solidarity with O4S,
Casey Lu Simon-Plumb