Although the storm of protests and activism following the release of questionable Title IX verdicts has since quieted, a recent email brought the student body and faculty alike back to the discussion of reform. On Sept. 1, independent Title IX investigator and consultant Rebecca Veidlinger contacted the Kenyon community reminding us of the audit she is conducting of our Title IX policy and its implementation.
In her email, Veidlinger gave students and faculty multiple outlets to communicate grievances and suggestions, including an anonymous online form and the availability of private in-person meetings. While she notes that she cannot reopen previously adjudicated cases that may have been dealt with improperly, Veidlinger explains that she can turn student and faculty responses into a cohesive plan for progress and improvement.
It is my hope that Kenyon community members will take advantage of this rare opportunity to communicate with an unbiased party regarding Title IX policy expectations and implementation. There was a common thread throughout the flux of articles, arguments and advocacy efforts responding to seemingly unfair Title IX decisions in the Spring 2016 semester, which had relaxed sanctions for perpetrators and lacked safety measures for survivors. These discussions honed in on the unwillingness and inability of Title IX administrators to listen to student complaints, adjugate fairly and make changes based on weak areas of Kenyon policy. By hiring an independent attorney to audit our Title IX process and compile suggestions for improvement and reform, Kenyon is demonstrating a base willingness to start taking student concerns seriously. An unbiased expert can deal with policy problems properly.
This course of action is, without a doubt, not everything we could have hoped for as a community, as past wrongs cannot be re adjudicated. However, the Kenyon administration is, at the very least, providing us the forum we needed last semester, amidst clumsily arranged assurances that the policy and student safety were not lacking. It is important for us to participate in this opportunity for change to show the Kenyon administration that we are willing to work with them, despite past fragmentation, and that we appreciate administrative efforts to be more inclusive of a wide range of community voices.
If we participate openly and actively in this audit, we stand the chance of inducing tangible changes in our Title IX policy and implementation that will immediately and positively affect the integrity and safety of this community.
Hayley Yussman ’18 is an English and political science major from River Forest, Ill. Contact her at email@example.com.