Section: News

Title IX discussion remains at forefront

New allegations of misconduct within the College’s Title IX office continue to surface, especially in light of President Decatur’s announcement of an independent audit of the process by which the school handles claims of sexual misconduct.

One first-year student, who agreed to an interview on the condition of anonymity, said they went to the Title IX office hoping to file an informal report. “I went to Andrea [Goldblum, the College’s civil rights and Title IX coordinator], I told her everything that happened, and then she was like, ‘This is really problematic behavior, would you be willing to do a formal report?’” the student said. “And I was like, ‘Not really no,’ mainly because I would have to be the complainant … and because [the perpetrator] has naked pictures of me, and the one thing I have going for me is that he has no reason to be angry with me.”

The student said Goldblum told them the only way she would feel comfortable not taking any further action was if the student judged the perpetrator was not an immediate risk to the community. 

Goldblum states that she did not make this statement.

Although Goldblum was not contacted by the Collegian about this specific case, it is College policy not to comment on specific cases, under federal privacy laws.

“I was really taken aback by the question, just because it felt like she was trying to make me responsible for [their] behavior,” they said. “I just kind of shut down after that.”

In association with federal policy, The College’s Title IX and Violence Against Women Act handbook for 2015-16 states: “The College will balance a complainant’s interest with its obligation to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for for all members of the College community.”

After Michael Hayes’ letter, the ensuing discussion on social media and coverage by major media outlets sparked the College to announce an audit to the process by which it handles sexual misconduct cases, covered under Title IX. Michael Hayes did not immediately respond to a request for comment as of press time.

In an interview on Tuesday, President Sean Decatur said there was nothing further he could say about the audit, though he plans on releasing another detailed message to the community by the end of this week.

“This isn’t something that will be done in secret in July,” Decatur said, promising he would give student and faculty input his highest priority. Decatur also met with Student Council at their meeting on Sunday, where he said representatives offered several solutions to garner student input over the summer.

Goldblum said the audit was being coordinated through the president’s office, and the College has been getting contacts and gathering the names of firms that could potentially complete the audit.

“My understanding of [the scope of the audit] is that it will include looking at all of our data in our cases, not to change decisions but to see if we’re following the policies and the processes,”  Goldblum said.

Roughly 70 students and professors attended a sit-in to support survivors last Thursday. Participants sat around the edges of Peirce’s Great Hall in general silence, some holding signs showing their support for survivors.

Last Thursday, the College also held an open forum moderated by Nicole Keller, the counselor who is in charge of the Sexual Misconduct Advisors, in the Community Foundation Theatre. Around 60 administrators, professors and students attended the event, during which audience members asked questions and shared ideas about the Title IX process.

The forum also attracted several trustees, according to Mark Ellis, associate vice president for communications, in an email to the Collegian.

Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Brackett B. Denniston III ’69 also responded to the allegations in an open letter sent out via Student- and Employee-Info emails, endorsing Decatur’s statement released on April 28, and asking the College for regular updates on the process. “Our greatest responsibility is to the students of this College we love — and to their safety and education,” the letter read.

According to the first year, changes in the College policy may not be enough. “[The] Title IX [law] has no clue about the mental side effects of being a victim of sexual assault,” they said, stating that revisions to policy may need to happen at the federal and state levels as well as at those of the College.

Correction: In an earlier version of this article, The Collegian did not include a statement from Andrea Goldblum about allegations made by the student.  The Collegian regrets this error.


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