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Sexual assault task force makeup solidifies

UCS chooses four students to join task force in efforts to reform policy

The Undergraduate Council of Students has selected four undergraduate representatives to serve on the Task Force on Sexual Assault announced by President Christina Paxson in a May letter to the Brown community. The selections were announced at Tuesday’s BUCC meeting.

Katherine Byron ’15, Justice Gaines ’16, Lauren Stewart ’15 and Yvonne Yu ’14.5 are the last representatives to join the 11-member task force. Other members include two graduate students, one medical student, four faculty members and four administrative staff. The group is chaired by Russell Carey, executive vice president for planning and policy, and Michele Cyr, professor of medicine and associate dean for academic affairs at the Alpert Medical School.

The task force will begin meetings immediately, as early as the end of this week, said UCS President Maahika Srinivasan ’15.

UCS executive board members conducted interviews over the weekend and selected the four finalists Monday night, Srinivasan said.

Council leaders  “jumped” at the opportunity to select other students to represent the student body, she added.

With a short timeline to select students, UCS leaders composed an application in collaboration with Frances Mantak, director of health promotion, and Bita Shooshani, coordinator of sexual assault prevention and advocacy, Srinivasan said.

UCS released the application in a campus-wide email Sept. 7, with questions surveying why the applicant thinks sexual violence happens on college campuses, what can be done to prevent it and what the task force can address with regard to “student support and advocacy” and “policies and procedures for sexual misconduct.”

The conversation surrounding sexual assault policy recommendations began last fall, Srinivasan said. The Sexual Assault Policy Task Force, a student group on campus separate from the formal committee assembled this fall, was working at the time to make policy recommendations and increase student representation on the Student Code of Conduct Committee, she said.

When campus conversation escalated in April after Lena Sclove ’15.5 publicized her struggles with the University’s disciplinary process for sexual assault cases, Paxson announced the creation of a separate committee tasked with solely addressing sexual violence policy outlined in the Student Code of Conduct, Srinivasan said. The separate task force would conduct a quicker code review process and prepare recommendations by December, she said.

The recommendations presented this fall could be implemented as early as January 2015 or could be reviewed by the Corporation at its tri-annual meeting in February, she said, adding that the nature of the recommendations will affect when they are implemented.

Going forward, UCS will encourage the task force to stay engaged with the greater student body and facilitate open discussions, Srinivasan said. “By no means are the four representatives the end-all representation of conversation,” she said.

The student representatives will attend an open forum at a UCS general body meeting, which are always open to the public, she said.


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