Section: Opinion

An Overdue Change

This piece was submitted anonymously.

I spent 12 hours in Gund Commons one Saturday so untrained professors and fellow students could decide whether or not I had been sexually assaulted. The Student Conduct Review Board (SCRB) found the accused innocent after hours of deliberation, during which some unknown Kenyon official bought me dinner from the Village Inn, a consolation prize for having been interrogated for the entirety of my day.

Enduring tis process felt more like a punishment for bringing forth a sexual assault case than a way to tease out the truth, and if I would have known how taxing and traumatizing this process would be, I would never have reported the incident.

To be fair, Kenyon officials such as Dean Toutain, Linda Smolak and Sam Hughes warned me that the formal hearing would be exhausting. I had become a seasoned professional at these types of things, having jumped through the tedious and stressful informal hearing and mediation hoops in the 90 days leading up to the trial. I had been told by Smolak and Hughes that Title IX cases are required to be resolved within 60 days, but the day before my hearing was originally scheduled, I was informed that it had been postponed until January. I still do not know why my hearing was rescheduled aside from the fact that there was a “conflict of interest” from a panelist on the SCRB, but I was assured that their reasoning for rescheduling was perfectly legitimate, which, of course, provided me with all the comfort I needed.

A part of me was envious to learn Kenyon had changed from using the SCRB to a new investigative model to determine accountability in sexual misconduct cases. I am jealous that my peers’ grades will not plummet as mine did during the semester when my hearing took place, and I am jealous that their mental health will be far more stable than mine was during those 90 days.

While I do not know much about this new investigative model, what I have been told fills me with hope for the way sexual misconduct cases will be handled at Kenyon in the future. To my understanding, the individuals handling these cases via the investigative model are trained to do so, which is a major upgrade from the professors and students who, frankly, were in over their heads in past years when they attempted to determine the outcome of these cases.

While their realization came embarrassingly late, I am pleased Kenyon finally recognized that it can no longer have amateurs handling the affairs of professionals.



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