The University has appointed undergraduates, graduate students and medical students to the newly formed Title IX Council and the Title IX Oversight Board. The move, recommended by the Task Force on Sexual Assault in its April final report, comes as part of a larger effort to improve campus sexual misconduct policies.
The Title IX Council, a more specialized version of the Student Conduct Board, is comprised of students, faculty members and staff members who will be trained to address cases involving sexual misconduct, sexual violence and gender-based harassment, said Title IX Program Officer Amanda Walsh.
Following a nomination process conducted by the Undergraduate Council of Students, which involved an online application and an in-person interview, six undergraduates will serve on the council: Candice Ellis ’16, Kimberley Charles ’16, Meredith Angueira ’17, J.D. Laurence-Chasen ’17, Hans Britsch ’18 and Minoshka Narayan ’18.
The Graduate Student Council nominated Virginia Thomas GS, Amariah Becker GS and Anni Pullagura GS to the council, while the Alpert Medical School nominated Abigail Davies MD ’19.
From this pool of council members, three will be chosen “on a case-by-case basis” by the chair of the Title IX Council, Professor of French Studies Gretchen Schultz, Walsh said. Students’ particular expertise in a subject, as well as their “capacity to act on the case at any given time,” will factor into the choice, she added.
Council members will undergo an extensive five-hour training in a variety of issues prior to hearing any cases.
Several council members said they must also remain impartial judges, despite the emotion often involved in dealing with such sensitive subjects.
“It’s important to stay true to Title IX and the rules at Brown,” Britsch said. “A lot of times people impose their own biases one way or another on this process, unfortunately … toward the respondent and to the detriment of the survivor.”
“It’s a question of safety. It’s what we hold most dear,” Laurence-Chasen said. “When people are doing things that threaten that safety, it is totally important and natural to have those visceral reactions, otherwise this subject won’t be taken as seriously as it should be.”
Ellis stressed the importance of confidentiality in dealing with cases. “I hope that people recognize that, as a member of the council, there is a high level of confidentiality,” she said, noting that she worries students will inquire about the details of specific cases if they realize she is part of the council.
“In order to enact change on this campus, you need to be a part of the institution,” she added. “I want to make sure that the University is effectively implementing the policies that students fought for.”
Narayan expressed concern about working under a strict timeline to reach a decision. “The challenge I expect to see is being quick and thorough at the same time,” Narayan said.
The new Title IX Oversight Board, charged with evaluating the University’s progress in implementing and furthering new sexual assault policies over time, will face other pressing challenges. Three undergraduates — Anastasiya Gorodilova ’16, Nico Sedivy ’17 and Tau Lee ’19 — were appointed by President Christina Paxson P’19 to the board, along with Robert Valenti GS, Maggie Goddard GS and Marie DeLuca MD ’16.
“The conversations around this issue have finally entered a public consciousness at a scale that wasn’t present a few years ago,” Gorodilova said. She noted that while this new awareness has increased the urgency in the student body to respond to these issues, it has also circled misinformation around campus, which the board needs to address.
“I’m excited for the changes,” Laurence-Chasen said. “I think these changes will, through time and practice, gain back the trust that students lost for the University.”