University Senate

Proposed: December 17, 1999

Adopted:
 

MEETING OF NOVEMBER 12, 1999

President George Rupp, the chairman, called the Senate to order shortly after 1:15 pm in 106 Jerome Greene Hall. Forty of 79 senators and more than 150 spectators attended the meeting.

Adoption of the agenda: A report from the Commission on the Status of Women was deleted from the agenda.

Sen. Craig Wolff (Nonten., Journ.) asked for suspension of the Senate rule that allows only campus press to cover Senate meetings, so that members of the outside press could cover the present meeting. There was no objection.

Adoption of the minutes: The minutes of October 22 were adopted as proposed.

President's report: The President announced three advances:

--In exit interviews after a recent outside accreditation visit to the Columbia Law School, the visitors expressed enthusiasm about gains since the last visit in the quality of the student body, the faculty, and the facilities, including the library. The President looked forward to the visitors' final report.

--The Center for New Media Teaching and Learning in Butler Library is successfully carrying out its main function--teaching faculty how to use new media in their courses. More than 150 faculty members have used the center.

--An interim report from the Libraries records progress on all of the main problems identified in their Action Plan a year ago: the decompression of the collections in Butler; the design of the off-site storage facility in partnership with Princeton and the New York Public Library; improvements to facilities in Butler and the business and engineering libraries, with plans for further enhancements of Avery and the Starr East Asian library; network upgrades in residence halls and improvements in off-campus access to the Columbia network, with expansion and streamlining of the modem pool; and increased staffing for the help desk, a major bottleneck for library users. The President asked that the Senate Libraries Committee report later on current efforts.

Late nominations to committees: Sen. Paul Duby (Ten., SEAS), chairman of the Executive Committee, announced the following nominations to the Housing Policy Committee: Sen. Richard Bulliet (Ten., A&S), Sen. William Harris (Ten., A&S), Sen. Carol Kunzel (Nonten., SDOS), and Sen. Brian London (Stu., SEAS). The Senate approved them.

 

Report of the Executive Committee chairman: Sen. Duby was pleased to report that six senators representing the Health Sciences faculty had been elected since the previous Senate meeting: tenured professors Debra Wolgemuth (who was reelected), William Blaner, Lucien Cote, Maxwell Gottesman, and John Nicholson, and nontenured professor Pamela Flood.

Sen. Duby reminded the Senate about the letter from him and the President soliciting nominations for Senate-consulted Trustees. He said that to ensure the success of the consultation process that senators had worked out with Trustees two years ago, the Senate's nominating subcommittee has to provide nominations of a high quality. He appealed to senators to provide names of excellent candidates before December 1, the deadline for an exchange of nominations with the Trustees.

Sen. Duby reported briefly on the November 5 meeting of the Executive Committee. He said the committee had considered the question of allowing nonsenators to speak on the report of the Task Force on Sexual Misconduct. He said this decision must be made by unanimous consent of the full Senate, with a likely expectation of time limits. He added that there are other ways for people to get involved in Senate business, including running for the Senate, asking their senator to speak to a certain issue, writing to the Senate, and taking part in public hearings that the Senate holds from time to time, including one scheduled for November 18 on the sexual misconduct policy. Sen. Duby said there would be discussion but no vote on the task force's recommendations at the present meeting. The Senate might vote in December, or might wait till January.

New business:

--Update from External Relations on the work of its subcommittee revising

the Fair Labor Association code of conduct for apparel manufacturers: Sen. Eugene Litwak (Ten., A&S) reported that a subcommittee has drafted all but one provision of a revised code of conduct for manufacturers of clothing bearing the University's name or logo. The full committee expects to present a finished document on December 17.

Sen. Roosevelt Montas (Stu., GSAS/Hum) recalled that Sen. Litwak had reported in October that the University was asking its suppliers to abide by a code of conduct. He asked whether that code would be the Fair Labor Association code or the revised code that External Relations is now preparing. Sen. Litwak said the University had asked suppliers to abide by the FLA code.

--Report of the Task Force on Sexual Misconduct: Associate General Counsel

Patsy Catapano, chair of the task force, briefly reviewed its history. The Senate created it in April 1998 to review the sexual misconduct policy the Senate had enacted in 1995 and to report back in November 1999. Ms. Catapano said the report, made public a week ago, has already elicited many comments and questions. As a result, the task force plans to submit an amended report at the December Senate meeting, after an open meeting to be held on November 18 where the task force will discuss the report and hear suggestions. At the December meeting the Senate will decide whether or not to vote then.

Ms. Catapano summarized the report's contents. She said the task force heard a lot of concern about the alternative disciplinary procedure adopted in 1995, which was seen as too intricate and convoluted, and too hard to understand or follow, both for student participants and administrators. Rather than tinker with that procedure, the task force is recommending a return to the format of dean's discipline, persuaded by a general sense of approval among people it had consulted for the simplicity of that approach. The task force responded to a number of concerns, including a conviction that the 180-day statute of limitations for complaints of sexual misconduct is too short. The report recommends extending the statute of limitations to 18 months, and the task force has since considered dropping such limits altogether, since they don't apply in other kinds of cases handled by dean's discipline. She said this change in the report's recommendations is probably doable. Other changes are also possible.

The key problem identified during the task force's deliberations, Ms. Catapano said, is how little the Columbia community knows about the sexual misconduct policy. She said that concerned members of the community, partly by their presence at the present meeting, are beginning to change that situation. The task force report calls on the University to take steps to train anyone who deals with students in how to handle complaints of sexual misconduct. Included in that recommendation is training in the problem of alcohol, which figures in a high proportion of sexual misconduct complaints.

The task force recommends that students have a range of options in pursuing complaints of sexual misconduct, including the criminal justice system, a choice of types of dean's discipline, and mediation, with the understanding that only one of these approaches be pursued at a time.

The President thanked Ms. Catapano and the task force for their work. He said he understood that the task force report is a draft, to be revised in the light of discussion at the present meeting and at hearings and other deliberations and to be resubmitted to the Senate in December, for action then or perhaps later.

Sen. Ralph Holloway (Ten., A&S) asked about the frequency of incidents of student sexual misconduct over the last few years. He identified three features of the report that troubled him. He asked for more careful elaboration of the question of whether students accused of misconduct should be held to a higher or lower standard of proof. He asked why the report calls for eliminating the requirement that both parties be present at a fact-finding proceeding. And he asked why the committee wants to extend--or even scrap--the statute of limitations for sexual misconduct complaints.

Ms. Catapano, commenting on the frequency of complaints, said two cases had gone through the alternative procedure set up for investigating sexual misconduct complaints since the current policy was enacted in 1995. Other cases had gone through dean's discipline during that time. The scarcity of hearings under the alternative procedure has been attributed to its discouraging complexity and difficulty, she said, and is a main reason why the task force opted for a simpler procedure. As for the lack of a requirement that the accuser and accused both be present, Ms. Catapano said this arrangement is standard in dean's discipline, which is an investigative rather than an adversarial process: the dean hears separately from each party, then presents each one's account to the other. The current alternative procedure requires both parties to be present during the proceedings. The task force dropped this arrangement after hearing that complainants are sometimes uncomfortable with it. As for the statute of limitations, Ms. Catapano said the effective time limit on dean's discipline generally is the end of a student's enrollment in school.

Sen. Gerard Lynch (Ten., Law) spoke to the right of a defendant to be present. He said he understood dean's discipline is an inquisitorial process, which makes sense for many kinds of cases. But he said the definition of sexual misconduct in the 1995 University policy identifies criminal acts, some of them extremely serious. Under these conditions, he said, the task force should think harder about what are fair procedures. He said this is a difficult question. Lawyers are accustomed to complex procedures that may be poor models for university discipline. Having represented students charged with violations of University Rules of Conduct governing demonstrations, he had seen what a mess a good defense lawyer can make of a highly formalized proceeding. So he was not enthusiastic about creating a lawyered-up, adversarial process. But he said it is important to distinguish between procedures based in a particular legal tradition and procedures that are fundamental for fairness anywhere in the world. He would personally be prepared to forego the participation of lawyers and other protections for defendants provided in most American proceedings. But no proceeding under any legal system in the world would find someone guilty of a criminal act punishable by a long prison term without allowing him to hear the evidence against him or even propose questions for cross-examination. He said he did not see how to conduct a serious fact-finding without these provisions. Noting the statement in the task force report that the accused "shall not have the right to object to evidence," Sen. Lynch hoped this meant that formal rules of evidence do not apply, not that the accused cannot raise objections. He asked the task force to think again about how far to go in the direction of informality.

Ms. Catapano replied that while the acts identified as sexual misconduct in the University's definition might constitute crimes, the punishments under University discipline are not of the same order--the worst is expulsion. Dean's discipline also addresses other acts defined as crimes outside the University, including assault and theft, with similar consequences--up to expulsion.

Ms. Catapano pointed out that the task force report had omitted the provision in the current procedure that University discipline will be suspended if criminal proceedings begin. The purpose of this feature is to protect defendants' fifth-amendment rights. She said the omission is an oversight, which she expects to rectify in the final draft of the report. She said Sen. Lynch was also correct about the statement in the report about the right to object to evidence--it means that formal rules of evidence do not apply. She said that the task force was not trying to write down everything a dean could or could not do. She said the task force will consider any specific guidelines about dean's discipline procedures that the community wants.

Sen. James Applegate (Ten., A&S), noting that only two cases have actually gone through the alternative disciplinary procedure, asked how many times a complaint has been initiated.

Ms. Catapano said she did not know. Beth Wilson, Assistant Provost for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, said that for initial consultations complainants can go to gatekeepers, volunteer advocates, deans or a number of other first responders. There is no record or tabulation of these contacts.

Sen. Wolff asked what the University's responsibility is in handling complaints of criminal acts--does it go to the criminal justice system? Does it encourage students to press charges? Ms. Catapano said the decision is up to complainants; the University explains their options to them.

Sen. Wolff asked what methods are used to determine the seriousness of the problem. Has the University asked local hospitals about student complaints of sexual assault? Does it rely on residence advisors, deans? Ms. Catapano said the task force had not considered this question. She was sure local hospitals would not release this kind of information.

The President said that when students have to go to a local hospital, for whatever reason, deans often become involved. But he knew of no tabulation of such hospital contacts.

Sen. Wolff expressed a sense that local police take a gingerly approach to issues involving Columbia, and asked if they approach on-campus and off-campus incidents very differently. Such variations might inhibit data gathering on sexual misconduct.

The President said Columbia people have a strong sense that there is a boundary between the campus and the city, that police are not automatically welcome on campus. So he did not consider it strange that Columbia security is responsible for dealing with campus incidents.

Sen. Wolff offered the anecdote that local police were reluctant to intervene when he complained late one night about antisocial behavior at a frat house near his apartment. This episode reinforced his sense that high walls separate Columbia from the surrounding community in this as well as other ways.

The President said the Senate might want to hear from Sen. Emily Lloyd and Security Director George Smartt on Columbia's relations with the surrounding community. He added that this is a broader issue, only partly related to sexual misconduct.

Sen. Sofia Berger (Stu., CC) said the task force was charged to focus on the policy itself, and not on statistics. She noted the claim by some students that St. Luke's Hospital reports 3-8 complaints of rape in its emergency room each month. These numbers reveal a serious imbalance between statistics on and off campus. She said a lot of people she talked to during the previous week were very concerned about this issue, which might be a suitable topic for the Presidential Advisory Committee on Campus Security to address. She said she thought Columbia should follow the lead of other schools that have established procedures for collecting data, including their own sources and local precincts and hospitals.

Sen. Litwak said the need for statistics is essential. He said the task force should add this question to its mandate, and provide a recommendation in its next report about how the University should go about collecting statistics.

Sen. Montas said the Senate passed resolutions in 1995 requiring the collection and publication of statistics on sexual misconduct, but they have not been carried out. He said the Senate should see that those resolutions are followed.

Sen. Montas also noted that there is widespread support among students for broader student participation in the policy, but that there was no mention of this in the task force's recommendations. He asked what the task force had thought about this possibility.

Ms. Catapano said the task force did not consider whether or not to recommend greater student involvement. In the decision to return to the original model of dean's discipline, there was no thought of disenfranchising students. She had learned since the release of the report of various suggestions for increasing student involvement, as observers, or supporters of complainants, or judicial panelists, or members of a committee to monitor the policy. The task force would consider these alternatives.

Sen. Brian London (Stu., SEAS) asked the parliamentarian, Howard Jacobson, about how to change the mandate of the task force to incorporate recommendations on statistics.

Mr. Jacobson said prior resolutions defined the work of the task force, which was essentially to review the alternative disciplinary procedure. He noted that there had been a suggestion that questions about statistics be presented to the President's Advisory Committee on Campus Security. The statistics listed in Facets each year are required by federal legislation.

The President added that Congressional mandates about data gathering have been revised, to broaden the geographical region from which data must be gathered and the number of informants to be included. Mr. Jacobson said the implementation of the new guidelines would likely be in time for the 1999 crime statistics.

Sen. London said it is disturbing that administrators of the policy can't tell how many complaints have been initiated.

The President said that sexual assault is egregiously underreported at Columbia, as it is everywhere else, and that there is a serious need to encourage fuller reporting. But this is a broad educational issue; there is no magic process to elicit these statistics. As for the question of how to get the task force address this issue, the President said he thought the resolution empowering the task force is broad enough to include the question of data gathering, and he called on the task force to address it in its amended report in December. He noted that if the task force did not want to address this issue, it might recommend turning it over to the advisory committee on campus security. But he thought it was unnecessary to rewrite the resolution appointing the task force.

The President asked if the task force could address this question. Ms. Catapano asked if he still wanted the report in December. He said he did.

Sen. Montas proposed asking the task force to recommend a way to implement past Senate resolutions requiring the collection and publication of data. The President said the Executive Committee, of which Sen. Montas is a member, is responsible for seeing that Senate resolutions are followed, and could take on this assignment.

Sen. Joan Ferrante (Ten., A&S) commented on the question of statistics, recalling that when she served on a sexual harassment panel and students approached her with complaints about faculty, it was critical for them to know that no record would be kept of the conversation. She said this is one understandable obstacle to data gathering on this subject, but it should still be possible to keep track of numbers of complaints or contacts, if not any other details.

Responding to a question from Sen. Ferrante, Ms. Catapano said that in dean's discipline the complainant's allegations are reported to the accused, who can respond.

Sen. Berger asked for speaking privileges for a nonsenator, Jennifer Glaser, a Columbia College senior and leader of the Policy Reform Organization (PRO) of the Columbia/ Barnard Rape Crisis/Anti-Violence Support Center. There was no objection.

Ms. Glaser read a statement that had been approved by PRO. It said that her group had been gathering ideas about the sexual misconduct policy from the Columbia community for the past year and a half, as a contribution toward a new policy. She presented roughly 2000 petitions, signed by students, faculty and administrators, which several students carried to the front of the room and presented to the President, to applause.

The statement said members of the Rape Crisis Center felt positively about the Senate's attention to the issue of sexual misconduct, and particularly praised the task force's efforts to solicit comment on the policy, as well as its recommendations for publicizing the policy and for removing impediments to using it. The statement also praised the task force's plans to expand education efforts, and hoped that the resources of the Rape Crisis Center could be used for this purpose.

After discussing the task force report with many people in the past week, the statement said, PRO proposed three features that a sexual misconduct policy should have:

--community involvement: the current policy, whatever its flaws, is an attempt to involve a broader section of the community in the use and management of the policy. Community involvement could take the form of student participation on hearing tribunals, or possibly the designation of someone else to widen representation.

--greater accessibility, including 24-hour availability of campus representatives to respond to complaints, widespread distribution of educational posters, a structured timeline to guide investigations, and designation of a person to answer questions and be responsible for reporting.

--a group to oversee and evaluate the policy: this body could conduct periodic reviews of the use and effectiveness of the policy, perhaps organizing the collection of statistics on initial complaints.

The PRO statement reminded the Senate that the 1995 policy was an attempt to respond to widespread dissatisfaction with dean's discipline as the sole procedure for investigating complaints of sexual misconduct. These problems remain, and still need to be addressed.

The statement concluded with an invitation to the community to use PRO as a resource, and said the PRO petition, the student presence at the meeting, the numerous articles and editorials in the campus press, and the work of many campus groups speak to the desire of students to have an active role in the University's sexual misconduct policy.

The President thanked Ms. Glaser for a clear and disciplined statement.

Sen. Litwak suggested that a regular survey, assuring anonymity and reflecting student input, might be a valuable addition to official statistics on sexual misconduct. He said such a survey could be carried out by the Senate office.

Sen. Rohit Aggarwala (Stu, Bus.) asked Ms. Catapano to comment on the discontinuity between the task force's opinion that dean's discipline is a well-accepted procedure and the sense of dissatisfaction with dean's discipline reported in Spectator articles since the release of the report.

Ms. Catapano said that, in all of the task force's consultations, no one had expressed dissatisfaction with dean's discipline.

Sen. Berger said the task force had focused on the problems of the current alternative procedure, and not on dean's discipline. She said she agreed with students who have argued that regular dean's discipline is not sufficient for handling the special features of sexual misconduct cases. That's why the task force has proposed a variation on dean's discipline for this purpose.

Sen. Applegate asked how the task force could be sure there is widespread dissatisfaction with the alternative procedure if only two people have used it. The President conjectured that people thought it would have been used more if it were better.

Sen. Berger said the task force heard a range of complaints about the alternative procedure. One was that nobody was using it. Other criticisms came from the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action itself, which encountered serious problems in applying and interpreting the procedure just in the two cases that it handled.

Sen. Lynch reviewed some of the history of the deliberations about sexual misconduct in order to clarify the role of dean's discipline in the task force's recommendations. In 1995, he said, the preference for an alternative hearing procedure stemmed from two main complaints about dean's discipline: one was that it is too informal, too secretive, leaving too much to the discretion of deans; the other was that it varies from school to school, raising problems in cases where complainants had reservations about their own deans, or where the accused was from another school (and so would be judged by his own dean). It was the second complaint that led to the development of a University-wide procedure.

In its present recommendations, Sen. Lynch said, the task force seemed to be calling for a return to the model of dean's discipline, but with University-wide application.

He said the procedural issues he had raised before concern any kind of accusation of wrongdoing. In the Law School, dean's discipline has been replaced for all cases by a procedure that includes some confrontation rights for the accused.

Sen. Lynch said the presentation the Senate had just heard from PRO raised another set of issues altogether, focused not on procedural problems but on the educational mission addressed in the task force's third recommendation. The idea of a 24-hour hotline, for example, is not about disciplinary procedures, but about a safer and more supportive atmosphere for victims of sexual misconduct. He said the current situation is common at Columbia and other organizations: one group, students for example, feels unconsulted despite the good-faith efforts of a committee making policy recommendations to consult broadly. The focus starts to develop when the report comes out. Sen. Lynch suggested using the task force report as an occasion for longer, broader deliberations.

Ms. Catapano thanked Sen. Lynch for his comments, and invited him to join the task force. She said she thought the advisory committee on campus security would be the most appropriate place to continue deliberations on these issues.

Sen. Edward Mullen (Ten., SW), a member of the task force, said it is a mistake to think the task force has not been hearing the Columbia community. He said the report is an attempt to share thinking that is based on extensive previous consultation; the task force is listening to reactions at the present meeting, and will continue to listen at the hearing on Nov. 18 before offering its final recommendations in December. They are now about midway in the process, not at the end.

Sen. Mullen also said it is a mistake to see the task force as proposing a return to dean's discipline. Instead, using the model of dean's discipline, the task force has tried to build something new that will address criticisms of dean's discipline put forward in 1995.

Sen. Wolff said he would hate for the University to slip into a prolonged period of deliberations at the expense of taking action. He said he saw no reason, for example, why a 24-hour hotline for victims of sexual misconduct could not be available now.

The President pointed out that a 24-hour hotline is available now. Sen. Berger explained that the Rape Crisis Center already runs such a hotline. One of the problems to be addressed by recommendation #3 of the task force report, calling for more education on sexual misconduct issues, is to make sure the Columbia community knows about programs that are already in place, like the hotline. Another step is to make sure that every counselor in the Rape Crisis Center and RA understands whatever disciplinary procedures are finally adopted for sexual misconduct cases. She said she hoped to see the Rape Crisis Center continue to provide the services it is offering now, partly because student counselors and advocates may be better suited for these roles than administrators.

Karen Blank, Dean of Studies at Barnard and a member of the task force, said there was certainly no intention to exclude anyone from the task force's deliberations. But the task force kept hearing from the people who did come in about the importance of training and handling complaints and of the need for efficiency in getting disciplinary proceedings going. And for better or worse, deans are here. She understood that students might not all think deans are sufficiently attuned to student culture, but deans are at least somewhat aware of student behavior. They are also used to upholding institutional standards and are not afraid to find people guilty when they do wrong. She asked students who want others to be involved in hearing cases at least to understand why the task force thinks deans should do that job.

Sen. Shireen Barday (Stu., Barn.) said one problem with the present policy is the difficulty and awkwardness of reaching gatekeepers. She said it is unclear to her how the new variation on dean's discipline proposed by the task force would address this problem.

Ms. Catapano said the task force discussed this problem during the past week. One possible solution is to have the complainant simply ask the administrator of the policy to set up a disciplinary panel, which could then go to work. She said there are other ways to improve the accessibility of the disciplinary process, and she welcomed suggestions.

Sen. Mary Joel (Stu., SIPA) noted that very few graduate students, apart from senators, were in the room. She said she is a commuter, and has been denied an escort service at 8 p.m. during the winter. She said this is very frustrating for women graduate students, who don't live in dorms or have RAs.

Sen. Berger stressed that the open forum on Nov. 18 is for all students, including graduate students. She said she had not yet heard from many grad students on this issue.

Richard Ferraro, Dean of Students in the School of General Studies, offered the perspective of his school, whose students also don't live in dorms. In two recent complaints he had heard from GS students, the accused are not Columbia students. He said such variations do not eliminate the need for University support services, but the situations are different.

Dean Ferraro also said that while statistics are important, students who confide in deans about an array of problems, both personal and academic, often request confidentiality beforehand, and an assurance that their case will not be used for statistical purposes. Usually he agrees. Sometimes students will change their minds later, and sometimes it is worth trying to persuade them later. But the need for knowledge must be balanced with the urgent, immediate needs of a student victim. He said there are ways to maintain this balance with reporting systems relying on code numbers.

The President said the task force was noting the points being made.

Sen. Aggarwala said that gatekeepers may be unavailable because they do other things. He asked if the task force had considered recommending the hiring of a full-time person, who could then also manage data collection.

Ms. Catapano said the task force did consider this possibility. She said these duties are part of the job of the director of the Rape Crisis Center. She said that hiring a person raises budget issues as well as the question of where this staff person should be based. But aside from these reservations, the task force also doubted that there is really a need for a full-time person. But this perception could change.

The President said one reason why people sought an alternative to dean's discipline in 1995 was a desire to have a point of reference in addition to the usual points of reference. He said the task force may have been reluctant to reduce the points of contact to one.

Sen. Lynch said students should be able to contact anyone they trust--a need that also speaks to the importance of more education. Every administrator and faculty member should know enough to offer support and basic counseling to a student in distress.

Sen. Berger said it would be difficult to add the duties of gathering data and handling preliminary complaints--let alone the task of educating the campus about sexual misconduct--to the job of someone in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action or the Rape Crisis Center. She said she understood that the task force is not allowed to mandate the hiring of new staff. But she asked how to go about establishing the need for a staff person to do these tasks.

The President said he thought the job of the task force was to address the viability of the current policy. He said there seemed to be general agreement that it needs fundamental revision. So the assignment of the task force is to recommend a new way to handle disciplinary procedures for sexual misconduct cases. There have been no boundaries on these recommendations. Certainly the recommendations already made for new educational and training initiatives would cost much more than hiring a single person to do all these jobs. He said he thought it is an illusion to think that hiring a staff person could solve this problem. If the task force wants to make such a recommendation, he said, he wants to hear the reasons. But he said it is not appropriate to say the task force can't make recommendations that cost money.

Sen. Marlene Braga (Stu., Journ.) suggested that senators could help recruit students to volunteer their services.

Sen. Fran Pritchett (Ten., A&S) identified a vacuum in the discourse: few senators seem to know much about the Rape Crisis Center, which is up and running and providing services, and might be able to provide some of the information about complaints of sexual misconduct that senators were requesting. She said a report to the Senate from the Rape Crisis Center would be useful.

The Senate gave unanimous consent for Maura Bairley, program coordinator for the Rape Crisis Center, to speak. She said the RCC, founded in 1991, provides trained student counselors six nights a week, Tuesday through Sunday, 7-11 pm. Students can reach them by phone (854-HELP) or can come see them at 123 Brooks Hall on the Barnard campus. The counselors work with victims of sexual misconduct and their friends and family, as well as victims of domestic violence, sexual harassment, and stalking. In addition, she said, the sexual misconduct policy enacted by the Senate in 1995 mandated the Rape Crisis Center to provide trained advocates, who can be reached by beeper 24 hours a day, and who can advise complainants about their options under the policy. She stressed that the advocate's role is not to convince people to report or not to report.

She said another mission of the RCC--which has a full-time staff of one (herself) and would welcome the help of volunteers, especially graduate students--is to educate the community about its services, and about the sexual misconduct policy, and to create genuine dialogue about sexual violence. She emphasized the center's willingness to take a leadership role, working with senators and their constituents, in the effort to reach the goal of making Columbia a rape-free environment.

The President said it is worth remembering the valuable recommendations in the 1995 resolutions on sexual misconduct, including the 24-hour hotline and the advocacy program, which have been carried out by the Rape Crisis Center. He said it is important to build on what has worked, and to realize that the task force is not just going back to the old dean's discipline, but recasting the alternative to dean's discipline.

Sen. Corby Dale said she had grown more confused over the two-hour meeting. She understood that the job of the task force was to review the alternative disciplinary procedure, but the discussion had shifted to the topic of support services available under the sexual misconduct policy. She said data still need to be collected to determine what disciplinary procedure is most appropriate. She said this question, and not the question of whether to hire a full-time staff member, was the proper business of the task force.

The President replied that the task force, to its credit, had recognized that the underreporting of sexual misconduct--a problem throughout society--borders on the ludicrous at Columbia, when the alternative disciplinary procedure is used twice in four years. It also recognized that addressing this problem would require a broader interpretation of its mandate than just tinkering with the disciplinary procedure. It became clear that a premium had to be placed on prevention and education, not just on discipline.

He concluded that it was not inappropriate, but praiseworthy, for the task force to have broadened its perspective in these ways.

Sen. Dale asked if the task force has a final deadline for making its recommendations. The President said there is a sunset date for the alternative disciplinary procedure, and the goal was to have recommendations before that time. Earlier in the meeting senators had expressed reluctance about dragging on the deliberative process indefinitely. On the other hand, the Senate should not replace the current procedure until it has a better one. But he said the task force has felt pressure to complete its recommendations so the Senate can take action by December. The Senate could decide not to act then, but he thought it was a good idea to keep pressure on the task force.

The President urged anyone with further thoughts to share them with the task force, or at the open forum on November 18. He adjourned the meeting at about 3:15 pm.
 
   Respectfully submitted,

 

 Tom Mathewson, Senate staff