Re-Released O4S Demands
Yesterday, on the steps of Parrish, a year after they initially made demands for Title IX reform, Organizing for Survivors (O4S) released new and revised demands, further advocating for the transformation of structures that allow violence to occur on Swarthmore’s campus. Below are the new and revised demands, as written by O4S.
In the year since we first released our demands, we have made so much progress and have much to celebrate. We have won crucial changes to Title IX policy and procedure, including clarifications and accessibility measures. There are now shorter processes, clearer expectations, and more built-in supports. We have also won the resignation or relocation of two out of the three administrators we called on to be accountable to the community. As you know, Dean Braun resigned last May, following our 9-day sit-in. Beth Pitts is no longer serving as the Title IX investigator, as a result of her patterns of harming students. This progress stands as a symbol to the community and our power: we, the students, can enact real change when we acknowledge the weight of our unified voices and actions. The college may write these changes as inevitable progress, changes they were going to make all along. The truth is, the administration has only taken the actions they have because of the labor put in by survivors and their allies on this campus, and the pressure you helped us generate.
Despite our significant progress, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done and survivors cannot wait for the College to make changes on their own accord.
Many of the promises made to us in a room full of stakeholders, including President Smith, last May, have simply not been fulfilled. We are still waiting for important clarifications, policy changes, and new options that were promised to us. Agreements were explicitly made, and then never realized. How can we know the College prioritizes issues of sexual violence when their response since then has mostly been silence?
Additionally, the College has co-opted some of the very things we demanded here a year ago and have not delivered on their promises. Take, for example, the botched Pub Safe review. We called for a review of the ways Public Safety harms students on the basis of their identities, especially students of color, queer and trans students, survivors of sexual violence, and especially students who hold multiple of these identities. Yet, we soon found out the College, despite agreeing to this demand, was not going to actually do what it promised us. Students attended the session hosted by the external reviewers and discussed issues of bias and the overwhelming lack of reliable accountability mechanisms within the office, and yet, the small parts of the review that was shared with students made no mention to either of these massive concerns.
Despite promises that issues in CAPS would be prioritized and improved, we know CAPS is also continually harming students. We know many therapists have patterns of racism, homophobia, and victim-blaming behaviors and we know CAPS refuses to listen to students requests that these CAPS staff members no longer work with students.
The Ad Hoc Committee, called for by President Smith, recommended a moratorium on fraternity parties as an interim measure to addressing fraternity violence and exclusion. The College
rejected this recommendation and did not take any other measures to address survivor’s concerns about ongoing harm in those spaces.
This points to the broader issues neglect, lack of clarity, and inaction. This includes the fact of the Title IX Transition Team, that was charged almost one year ago with developing important restorative measures that students need. We were supposed to recommend behavioral change programs, and begin the process of integrating restorative justice into our response systems. We have only met twice, in the last 8 months, and one meeting was over the phone last August.
When we ask, why has the work stopped? Why has the college abandoned survivors?, this is what we mean.
Since O4S began, we have always strived to ground our work in the practices of Transformative Justice, a philosophy that shares origins in Black feminist movements and Indigenous communities. In this framework, we recognize the potential for each individual to cause harm in our community, and that any harm caused affects the entire community, not simply individuals. Transformative Justice aims to center the needs and concerns of survivors of harm, while addressing the systemic cycles of oppression and privilege that facilitate harm and prohibit interventions into harm. Transformative Justice centers anti-carceral responses to harm that allow marginalized survivors, especially survivors of color, to find justice and repair. We believe a Transformative Justice framework is our best change at creating a safer, more just campus. We continue to demand a real behavioral change option, that can intervene in patterns of violence and facilitate the transformation of people who cause harm. We cannot have Transformative Justice without this resource.
Transformative Justice also acknowledges when it is no longer possible for community members, especially those with undue power, to be in community. This occurs when patterns of harm have been unaccountable, ongoing, and even celebrated by structures of power.
Thus, we stand by our 2018 demands calling for the resignations of both Dean Nathan Miller and Beth Pitts. Dean Miller still participates in Title IX adjudicative proceedings, despite a documented history of disregard for the rights of survivors. Beth Pitts was promoted to the college’s legal team with little to no update to the community on why this move was made. Neither administrator has acknowledged the damage they have done to the community. Neither administrator has apologized.
Though we are not calling for Dean Michelle Ray to resign, we want to acknowledge the ongoing conflict of interest of her two roles as case manager and class dean. As a dean, many students rely on being in contact with her, and for those who have had interactions with the Title IX process, this contact can prove to be further damaging to a student’s overall wellbeing on this campus. O4S stands by our call to remove her from Title IX proceedings all together. It is a failure of the College to have any staff person serve in both of these roles.
As the college prepares to fill the role of Liz Braun with the new Dean of Students, we must be vigilant as to ensure we do not have an identical case of administrative neglect, under a different name. We believe our deans should share our values and be held to a standard of transparency, accountability, and the responsibility. Practices of transparency and accountability must be expected, required, and codified in order for the office to remain structurally reputable.
After another year of meeting with administrators, old and new, speaking with student groups, hearing from survivors of sexual violence, having our own conversations, and collecting feedback, we have decided to build upon our demands. From our vantage point, we have seen the gaps in Swarthmore as well as our own work. Yes, O4S also must be accountable and responsive. These demands exist as a living document, and thus will continue to change as Swarthmore continues to change, and continues to de-prioritize survivors in its own work . We, as O4S, recognize that our work is never going to be perfect, and that necessary changes must be made and shared with the community in order to remain transparent and accountable ourselves. These changes are a product of meaningful critique and collaboration in the community, both of which we deeply welcome and appreciate as an organizing group on this campus.
Again, we still call for an investigative model of adjudication that looks and feels nothing like a courtroom. We demand clear job descriptions and training information for all Title-IX related staff. We demand a clear list of what survivors of sexual violence are entitled to, within and outside of formal processes. We demand accountability mechanisms, for all staff members, in which feedback can be given, received, and meaningfully addressed. We demand more apologies. We demand an accountable and effective Dean’s Office and accountable and effective supportive services. We demand a behavioral change resource and new restorative options. We demand an apology from the College for the ways in which it has harmed survivors of sexual violence.
And, still, we need more:
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 2019-2020 school year, have fully transitioned to an investigative adjudication process for all formal complaints, rather than the current hearing-based, model.
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 marginalized 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.
Acknowledging that a pool of witness coordinators has been established within the Title IX office, O4S is concerned by the potential conflict of interest posed by having the RCCs be the only community members in the pool at this time. We demand that the pool be widened so as to avoid this conflict of interest.
Swarthmore must ensure that all participant feedback mechanisms used in the Title IX Office throughout any process (report, hearing, interaction with personnel) are responded to transparently with regular updates.
Swarthmore must mandate specific, formal behavioral change and counseling programs for all people who have caused harm 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. We acknowledge that the Title IX Transition Team, a group formed at the end of the Spring 2018 semester in meetings with students and the President, is beginning to address this demand. This work must be done with a wider range of students at the table, and that the work, knowing it will be valuable and intensive, should be recognized through compensation.
We realize that the Title IX Office, by default, has centered the narratives and needs of white, heterosexual, cisgender women while marginalizing those of other identities. We call on the Title IX Office to uplift, reach out, and create specific resources for those belonging to marginalized groups, such as students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and students with disabilities.
The College must increase the amount of Title IX staff we have in order to alleviate the workload of existing staff members, and to reduce a dangerous culture of turnover. We also call for several paid student positions, so that we can create relevant programming that teaches students, faculty, and staff about consent, Title IX policy, and sexual violence. The College must look into the benefit of allocating funds for two Title IX coordinators.
Additionally, the College must allocate funding to the introduction of Transformative Justice resources (trainings, infrastructure, etc.) to the Swarthmore community. This process must begin at Orientation and continue through ongoing training opportunities. Following the lead of other colleges, the OSE must train RCCs and RPLs in Transformative Justice practices and conflict resolution, so that facilitated restorative procedures can be an option for dorm and hall-based conflict and harm.
Following the lead of Brown University, we demand the hiring of a new Transformative Justice Coordinator who can work on developing and implementing restorative and transformative structures, resources, and processes for this campus (including the ones mentioned above). The College must allocate financial, infrastructural, and physical resources to this incredibly important endeavor.
We demand viable interim measures that meaningfully ensure survivors’ comfort and safety while limiting the ability of people who have caused harm to continue harm.
We demand a robust set of potential interim measures and remedy-based solutions that can provide meaningful, short-term and long-term ways to prevent further harm from being caused. The Title IX Office should facilitate restorative processes, options, and safety plans, beyond just contact restrictions, at the request of survivors, including but not limited to: leaves of positions of power, housing relocations, non-attendance at parties with alcohol, behavioral change programs, and restorative justice circles. We must know what these options entail and how they can be ensured.
We understand that a good standing requirement has been implemented in the hiring process of the RPL program and we demand that identical measures be implemented for other positions of power, specifically the SHA and TA roles.
Swarthmore must add clear enforcement mechanisms and consequences for non-adherence to their policy on contact restrictions. Swarthmore must clarify and publicize its policy on contact restrictions outside of the formal Title IX hearing process. The college must make clear that measures like contact restrictions are not punitive but consequential and necessary for campus safety. Furthermore, the Title IX Office must work to center survivor safety by providing alternative options.
Swarthmore must institute a policy that any student who is not in good social standing with the college 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. Just as with contact restrictions, Swarthmore must add clear enforcement mechanisms and consequences for non-adherence to the limitations defined by social probation.
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 stop extending invitations to return to campus to any alumni who have had complaints made against them — whether for Alumni Weekend, class reunions, or opportunities to speak on panels or give talks.
We demand education and supportive services for survivors and all students that ensure our wellbeing.
Swarthmore must provide an external lawyer or legal advocate, and legal resources 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 inform all students during Orientation of their specific and 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 marginalized students.
We demand a fully funded and resourced peer-support program, in which paid student staff are trained in sexual assault response and peer-counseling methods. The Title IX office or the VPEA must be responsible for institutionalizing this project so it can be sustainable and functional through staff changes. This organization should grow to be a vibrant, integrated part of campus life.
Processes to support students in a mental health crisis must be clarified. Through the transition of Public Safety to a new community resource model, the role of Public Safety must be immediately, absolutely minimized in cases of mental health crises, due to patterns of cruelty, mistreatment, and escalation.
We demand an expansion of Swarthmore’s Counseling and Psychological Services office (CAPS) through a drastic increase of financial, physical (space) and professional resources.
We demand an expansion of CAPS through a drastic increase of financial, physical (space) and professional resources: CAPS must increase staff, and especially prioritize the hiring and professional development of therapists of color and queer and trans therapists. CAPS must hire trained psychotherapists who stay at the College for an increased length of time, in order to develop actual relationships with students. CAPS must train all of its staff in trauma response as well as designate salaried positions for therapists who specialize in care around sexual violence.
CAPS must institute a policy in which the wait time for emergency care is no longer than 24 hours.
Additionally, CAPS must expand to the point in which weekly appointments, rather than biweekly, are the minimum expectation for care.
CAPS must provide more therapeutic modalities that can benefit a wide range of trauma survivors. A wider range of support should be provided for those dealing with substance abuse, survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and other traumas.
Off-campus resources must be available and made accessible via financial assistance if necessary when CAPS cannot adequately or safely provide support for students.
We demand a restructuring of Swarthmore’s office of Public Safety.
We know Public Safety does not work for the majority of the student body. We don’t believe simple reforms can transform this dangerous structure, which operates as a pseudo-police force with lines of communication to the Swarthmore police.
We demand Public Safety immediately end the recruitment and hiring of ex-police officers, prison guards, and military contractors.
We demand a complete re-envisioning of Public Safety, in line with what many other student organizers are calling for and have called for, which may require its renaming. We demand the beginning of a plan to phase out staff members trained in policing and instead commit to reimagining the purpose of campus safety: we demand this new institution exist to respond to community needs. Consequently, the office must hire, train, and support people trained in first-response to sexual assault, domestic violence, conflict of all kinds, mental health crises, and substance abuse cases. The new staff must be trained in trauma response, cultural competency, and anti-oppression frameworks. They should be fully integrated into the community and accessible to all.
Additionally, the College must disconnect the RCC on call line from the Public Safety line immediately.
We demand accountability mechanisms for all Public Safety staff at all points in the transition to a true community response model. Public Safety must have accessible ways for students to report misconduct; the investigation and response to these incidents cannot be solely handled within Public Safety, for obvious conflicts of interest. Students require meaningful responses to their reports, in the spirit of restoration and repair, so that we are informed what steps are being taken to prevent further issues.
This transition should not be under Greg Brown, Vice President of Finance’s leadership, and rather under the leadership of the new Dean of Students.
We demand changes within Swarthmore’s academic culture, acknowledging that sexual harm is not an issue that can be addressed solely outside of academic life.
Swarthmore must address the disturbing reality of professors causing sexual harm to students. We demand accountability mechanisms that are accessible, clear, and responsive. These mechanisms must not be routed through departments and the Provost, and students must be encouraged to use Title IX processes. Swarthmore, the Dean’s Office, and the departments who are complicit in the protection of faculty members who routinely exhibit inappropriate, predatory, and violent behavior must take public accountability for doing so.
All people on campus that hold academic power should have mandatory, ongoing trauma-informed training, including faculty members and student TA’s. Faculty must be supported in developing trauma-informed pedagogy. We reject the idea that trigger warnings
and faculty sensitivity are anything other than important ways to make classroom spaces accessible for people who have experienced violence.
We demand an expansion of courses, speakers, and professors that speak to issues of sexual violence and anti-violence movements. The College must offer more academic opportunities to engage in questions of Transformative Justice, Black feminist organizing histories, and the politics of intimate violence such that more students are able to engage in these conversations.
Swarthmore must center survivors in the classroom such that survivors can drop a class that they share with a person who caused them harm and not be reprimanded, or work with trauma-trained faculty members to run courses in safer ways that avoid sharing space with people who have caused harm.
We demand an end to the dangerous structure of fraternity housing on campus, and a re-envisioning of Swarthmore’s social life.
Swarthmore must relocate students living in the fraternities immediately to regular campus housing. By the start of the 2019-2020 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.
We demand comprehensive, trauma informed, anti-oppression based consent workshops for all who wish to enter all-campus parties with alcohol, as a way to ensure mandatory, ongoing education beyond Orientation. Students must complete these courses to attain a notation on their IDs that they are then allowed to swipe into parties, such as PubNite, Worthstock, and any open event with alcohol.
We demand a total re-envisioning of the Swat Team organization so that members are well-trained and empowered to intervene upon witnessing sexually predatory, racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, classist, or ableist behavior. They must be empowered to act, rather than encouraged to simply be an intermediate with Public Safety. They must also be in good social standing and cannot have open Title IX investigations.
We reiterate our demand that the fraternity institution is exclusionary, thus we demand a proactive effort to truly democratize and transform social life after the dissolution of the fraternity leases. We demand the fraternity buildings have day-time function as well, and be repurposed according to student need. In order to actively restructure party spaces and cultures, we demand the fraternities must not be allowed to throw parties as organizations for a year after the leases are taken away. Instead, we suggest a council of paid student interns who can support student groups in hosting their own wet spaces and facilitating party host training. Party host training, as it stands, is not effective or meaningful, as it is only concerned with adhering to basic conduct policy. Instead, we demand trainings in bystander intervention and the creation of safe, inclusive spaces.
We demand more financial resources for parties in all spaces, seeing the potential in Parrish Parlor parties to democratically allocate funds to interested students. OSE should offer more money for students to hire DJs and to purchase materials that will make parties safer, such as lighting.
We demand individual staff changes and changes in institutional policy.
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 mistreatment and distrust of survivors as well as ineffective overseeing of the office as a whole. We demand that the college explain the reason for Pitts’ promotion to the college’s legal team — a move that was unpublicized and removes her from the public eye, in effect avoiding accountability.
All staff members of Swarthmore administration, such as the President, the Vice President of Finance, and the Provost, must be accessible to all students on at least a monthly basis in the form of office hours and in the context of an emergency. These times must be well-advertised and allocated for communication with students specifically.
We require timely and thorough written response from all parties involved in the Title IX processes. This demand, in the eyes of the administration and the Title IX office, has been met, however, students remain dissatisfied by the low level of communication in Title IX and administrative offices.
Job descriptions of all administrative positions, as well as their expectations, must be clearly written and accessible on the website. A viable accountability mechanism—with a reporting option and required response—must be made publicly available.
Communication around Title IX policy changes must be transparent and up to date, clearly explaining the reasoning behind them.
O4S acknowledges that the college’s current administrative decision-making structures are slow, unresponsive, and muddled with inefficient bureaucratic practices. These structures, as they stand, are exclusionary and harmful to students, the motivating constituency of the college. We call on the college to take measures towards implementing community participatory budgeting and faculty governance, practices frequently present at peer institutions and which fall well within Swarthmore’s Quaker values.
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,
apology and letter written by President Smith and signed by all involved in the Title IX process, including but not limited to Dean Miller, Beth Pitts, and Michelle Ray, acknowledging this harm and committing to immediate transformation of the structures that have created it.
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Our demands are numerous and they are sweeping. We demand action from the President, the Provost, campus departments, the Board, OSE, truly the entire community. We demand big action, not just small reforms. And we demand it soon.
The scope of sexual violence and harm at Swarthmore requires changes that span across so many different campus offices and institutions. Each of these changes are necessary to creating a safer campus for survivors and all students, and we demand each are taken seriously. We know the College has the power and resources to meet each of these demands and meet them well.
Editor’s Note: This document was edited on Thursday, April 11th.