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U. creates sexual assault task force

Paxson email also announces hiring of full-time Title IX coordinator

The Brown University Task Force on Sexual Assault will begin work in the fall, submitting recommendations by December, President Christina Paxson announced in a campus-wide email Friday. The University will also immediately begin searching for a full-time Title IX coordinator, she wrote.

Paxson also outlined plans to consult with national experts on sexual assault policy over the summer. “Consultants will engage with students, faculty and administrative staff to determine best practices for prevention, education and training, providing student support and enhancing the effectiveness of disciplinary procedures,” she wrote.

“Our goal is to move Brown to a position of national leadership for prevention, advocacy, and response to issues of sexual assault,” Paxson wrote.

Russell Carey, vice president for planning and policy, and Michele Cyr, professor of medicine and associate dean for academic affairs at the Alpert Medical School, will chair the new task force. They will be joined by student representatives selected by the Undergraduate Council of Students, the Graduate Student Council and the Medical Student Senate. Selections will be announced in September.

Four undergraduates will serve on the task force, said Maahika Srinivasan ’15, Undergraduate Council of Students president-elect and current chair of the Academic and Administrative Affairs committee. UCS will be soliciting applications for these positions at the start of next semester, focusing on diversity among undergraduates with “lived experience, … policy initiative and the ability to engage with this kind of policy,” she said.

“I will be doing outreach to students who have been involved in these conversations,” she added.

The task force has been charged with examining prevention efforts on campus, evaluating the available support and advocacy resources and reviewing the policies currently in effect regarding complaints of sexual misconduct, Paxson wrote in her email.

Srinivasan said administrators are still in the process of selecting the consultants and students who will conduct summer research on Brown’s policies.

Margaret Klawunn, interim dean of the College and vice president for campus life and student services, is reaching out to students who will remain in Providence for the summer and have been involved in the Imagine Rape Zero campaign to participate in the summer’s work, Srinivasan said. The campaign, whose name is a spin-off of the University’s Imagine Brown 250+ celebrations, is a movement that aims to reform the University’s response to sexual assault on campus.

The summer work will provide the foundation necessary for the new task force to begin formulating recommendations.

“It’s just a step, and I think people need to see it in action and in place to be able to buy into the idea that Brown is progressing,” Srinivasan said.

Paxson’s email comes on the heels of a statement issued Tuesday by the White House, a 23-page document entitled “Not Alone” that outlines new guidelines for campuses regarding sexual assault policies.

According to the document, the “Justice Department’s Center for Campus Public Safety will develop a training program for campus officials involved in investigating and adjudicating sexual assault cases” by September. The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault also plans to examine the language used in outlining campus policy procedures regarding accusations of sexual assault.

In response to this statement, the University plans to devote additional efforts to sexual assault prevention efforts during fall orientation, Paxson wrote.

A single full-time Title IX coordinator will now lead these efforts, taking over the responsibilities of the three staff members who currently act as part-time coordinators. “We anticipate that this consolidation of responsibilities will strengthen Brown’s policies and programs.” Paxson wrote.

Brown will also develop a campus climate survey in collaboration with several peer institutions to be administered on an annual basis.

Srinivasan said Paxson’s email at least partially responds to the demands listed in a recent petition circulated by the Imagine Rape Zero campaign, though the email does not address all the concerns raised by the group.


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