Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Education

Status Report to the University Senate

March 25, 2002

 

Misumbo Byrd,

Director

Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Education

 

 


Introduction

 

Established by resolutions adopted by the University Senate in February 2000, the Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Education seeks to build a comprehensive program of sexual misconduct prevention and complaint resolution.  Its goals, specifically, are 1) to increase education and awareness about sexual misconduct and the availability of University resources with which address complaints of misconduct; 2) through such education, to prevent instances of misconduct; and 3) to implement fair procedures for the adjudication of complaints of sexual misconduct lodged against students. 

 

This report summarizes the current status of these efforts.  Section I provides a brief review of the start up of the Office; Section II reviews of educational initiatives;  Section III discusses the implementation of the disciplinary process; and Section IV concludes with an overview of current priorities.  As noted in the review of the disciplinary process, insufficient time has passed to collect enough data for a through review of the procedure.  The director, therefore, recommends that the Senate defer a more comprehensive review until the Spring Semester, 2004.

 

I.  Program and Office Start-up

 

In February 2000, the University Senate directed that the Student Services division implement a program of sexual misconduct preventative education and complaint resolution.  The Office of the Vice President for Student Services initiated the planning and implementation stage in April 2001, which included formation of an office to carry out the goals of the Senate, identification of office space and resources, development of job descriptions, and the selection and hiring of a Program Coordinator. 

 

In summer 2000, a search committee selected a Program Coordinator for the Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Education (OSMPE), who subsequently left the University in May, 2001.  She was succeeded by a second Coordinator, subsequently upgraded to Director, in October 2001.  The Office currently is managed by the Director, with additional staffing of a full-time administrative and educational outreach coordinator, as a result of expanding a previous part-time support position to full-time.  The Office is located in 703 Lerner Hall.

 

The Vice President for Student Services formed work groups of administrators and students to carry out the planning activities and to provide advice in hiring decisions and setting priorities for the Office.  Today, such administrative and student consultation and outreach remain integral to the planning work and programmatic initiatives of the Office.

 

II.  Educational programs

 

From the inception of the Office, OSMPE staff members have focused on the development of education and prevention outreach programs.  The current director convenes colleagues from programs with similar missions on a regular basis to collaborate on program development.  The Rape Crisis/ Anti-Violence Support Center, Alice!, Counseling and Psychological Services, the University Ombuds Officer, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, and Barnard's Well Woman and Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention programs are all partners in developing and implementing educational and outreach programs. 

 

During each of its two years of operation, OSMPE has contributed to educational and information programs in graduate and undergraduate new student orientation programs and implemented various outreach efforts during the academic year.  A list of outreach efforts during the current academic year is attached as Appendix A.

 

III.  Disciplinary procedure

 

OSMPE has focused its efforts in four primary areas related to disciplinary procedures: implementation of procedural regulations, selection and training of panelists, serving as a referral sources for complaints of sexual misconduct, and managing cases submitted through the disciplinary procedure.

 

During the spring and summer of 2001, the Office of the General Counsel oversaw the development of procedural regulations to guide the application of the disciplinary policy developed by the Senate.  OSMPE's acting coordinator and the Office of the Vice President for Student Services hosted consultative meetings and discussions with students in September 2001 to seek student input.  Following review by the subcommittee on disciplinary processes, the regulations were implemented on September 28, 2001.  The regulations are included as Appendix C.

 

OSMPE began recruiting administrative and student panelists in September 2000 and held training sessions in October 2000 and November 2001.  Training included victim sensitization, substance abuse and sexual assault, methods for investigating a complaint, and the difference between Columbia's policy and a criminal justice approach to sexual assault.

 

Finally, OSMPE has served as a referral resource for persons seeking to understand their options for lodging complaints of sexual misconduct against University students (excluding the Law School, whose students cannot be charged in the process because the School does not participate in it).  The Office has initiated disciplinary procedures on three occasions; one case was heard and a decision issued by a panel; another was withdrawn; and the third remains pending.  Additional inquires have resulted in referrals to other University processes. 

 

Because of the limited experience with the disciplinary process itself, the director recommends that the Senate defer a thorough review of the process until the spring term, 2004.  A list of inquiries related to sexual misconduct and other concerns is included as Appendix B.

 

IV.  Current priorities

 

The OSMPE staff is focused on continuing to develop educational and outreach programs for the University community.   The Office is developing several standard workshops that the Office will be prepared to deliver on a regular basis and currently is developing the curriculum for a peer education program.  Among OSMPE's current educational initiatives is a program on sexual orientation and assault, to be held later this semester.  Additionally, the director continues to develop plans for the student advisory task force that was convened this year.  Finally, because of the need to expand the pool of panelists for disciplinary cases, OSMPE will conduct additional panelist training during the current semester.


Appendix A

 

OSMPE Educational and Outreach Programs

 

Audience

Topic

 

Fall Semester 2001

 

Spectator

Interview

 

Columbia College Student Council

OSMPE goals

 

Student organization

Sexual Misconduct presentation

 

 

Student Affairs

Fall 2002 Orientation & future collaboration

 

Sorority

“Rape & Race”

 

Residence Hall

Network Option

Sexual harassment and misconduct. Training to take place mid-spring

 

Spectator

Interview

 

OSMPE Student Advisory Task Force

 

First Meeting

Fraternity and Sorority

Fall 2002 Orientation & future collaboration

 

General Studies Student Council

OSMPE goals & policy

 

Rape Crisis Center

OSMPE & Policy

 

Spring Semester 2002

 

Student organization

Consultation on developing sexual harassment policy.

 

Athletic team

Sexual misconduct policy

 

Counseling and Psychological Services

Sexual misconduct policy

 

OSMPE-sponsored public program

Race and Reporting: Breaking the Silence

 

 

 

 


Appendix B

 

Inquiries to OSMPE, Spring 2001 - Spring 2002

 

Report

Parties involved

 

 

Sexual Misconduct

Unknown*

Sexual Harassment

Reported by a CU student

Verbal Harassment & Sexual Misconduct

 

Student accused

Sexual Harassment

Unknown*

Student requested definition of misconduct

 

Unknown*

Sexual Misconduct

Non-student accused

Sexual Harassment

Employee

Student requested definition of rape

 

Student made inquiry

 

Sexual harassment

Student inquiry

Harassment

Faculty to student

Harassment

2 students

Voyeurism

Employee

Harassment

1 Student, other party unknown

 

 

 

Continued on next page


 

Appendix B, continued

 

Sexual misconduct

Allegation against student by non-student

 

 

Sexual misconduct

Student complaint about unidentified

individual

 

Sexual misconduct

Friend of a student sought consultation

 

Sexual harassment

Husband of subject of harassment

Sexual misconduct

Students

 

 

 

 

* Note:  Records were not retained by previous coordinator.


Appendix C

 

Procedural regulations for the Sexual Misconduct Disciplinary Procedure

(September 28, 2001)

 

                   Prior to the Hearing

 

                   Any student accused of a violation of the University's Sexual Misconduct

                   Policy ("the Policy") will receive written notice of the complaint and a copy of

                   the complainant's written statement, if any, at least ten days before the date he

                   or she is scheduled to appear before the panel. In any case where the

                   University believes there may be an issue of public safety, a student may be

                   called to a preliminary hearing without advance written notice, and the time

                   periods set out below for scheduling hearings and for submitting witnesses'

                   names shall not apply to such hearing.

 

                   The accused student will be advised that he or she is presumed not to have

                   violated the policy, and that he or she is expected to cooperate in the

                   investigation of the complaint. Additionally, the accused student will be

                   advised of his or her right to a supporter from the University community, and

                   of the potential penalties if he or she is found in violation. The student will be

                   advised that the hearing process is not a court-like proceeding, and that

                   violations of the policy are not subject to criminal penalties.

 

                   The Director of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Education ("the Director")

                   shall inform both parties of the membership of the hearing panel within ten

                   days of receiving a complaint, and shall inform both parties of their right to

                   challenge any member of the grounds of prior acquaintance or conflict of

                   interest. Additionally, both the complainant and the accused student must

                   notify the Director within two days of being notified of the membership of the

                   hearing panel whether they object to the participation of a student member.

                   Ordinarily, and with the understanding that all aspects will proceed as quickly

                   as possible, hearing sessions shall be set to begin no less than ten days and

                   end no more than thirty days after the accused student receives written notice

                   of the complaint, and a copy of the complainant's written statement, if any.

 

                   An accused student may, but need not, submit a written statement answering

                   the complaint prior to appearing at the hearing. The Director will provide a

                   copy of the statement to the complainant.

 

                   Both the person bringing a complaint and the accused student will be informed

                   prior to the hearing of their rights to identify witnesses and documents.

                   Witnesses' names and a brief summary of their anticipated testimony will be

                   submitted to the Director for transmission to the hearing panel at least two

                   days in advance of the first session of the hearing. Rebuttal witnesses, if any,

                   may be identified and their names forwarded to the Director during the hearing

                   process. The Director will contact witnesses to schedule their appearances

                   and to advise them about procedure and the requirement of confidentiality of

                   the proceedings. Should the hearing panel determine that a witness's testimony

                   will be taken, a brief summary of the witness's testimony will be sent to the

                   other party at least two days in advance of the witness's appearance.

 

                   Prior to, and during, the hearing, the Director may grant extensions of time for

                   good reason to either party in order to produce supporting evidence or to

                   appear at a hearing.

 

                   Both the accused student and the complainant will be informed of the

                   requirements of confidentiality of the proceedings, and the need to inform any

                   potential witnesses of these requirements. The accused student will be advised

                   that the requirement of confidentiality does not prohibit him or her from

                   informing his family, a counselor or legal advisor, or from seeking assistance in

                   his or her defense and speaking to potential witnesses. Nothing shall be

                   deemed to prohibit an accused student from seeking legal counsel outside the

                   hearing. Both students will also be informed that violations of the provisions of

                   confidentiality or retaliation against any person bringing a complaint will be

                   treated as additional violations of the Policy.

 

                   At any time after a complaint has been received, but prior to a decision being

                   rendered by the hearing panel, the parties may agree to settle the matter

                   between themselves with the help of a mediator or the Director.

 

                   The Hearing Process

 

                   After the hearing has commenced, the hearing panel shall make any procedural

                   decisions that they deem necessary to assure fairness and avoid undue delay.

                   The hearing panel will determine the admissibility, relevance and materiality of

                   the evidence offered, and may exclude evidence or witnesses that they deem

                   to be cumulative, irrelevant or disruptive. Conformity to the legal rules of

                   evidence shall not be necessary. The hearing panel may stop the hearing at any

                   time if any person becomes disruptive. The hearing panel may seek guidance

                   from the Office of General Counsel at any time prior to or during the hearing

                   with respect to procedural issues.

 

                   An accused student has the right to testify in his or her own defense, but may

                   choose not to do so. However, if either the complainant or accused chooses

                   not to appear or to testify, he or she will be informed that the hearing panel will

                   proceed to a decision.

 

                   The prior sexual history of either party is not admissible in the hearing, except

                   testimony submitted by a party concerning his or her own sexual history. Either

                   party may submit evidence of the history of any sexual relationship between

                   the parties. If either party submits such evidence, then the other party has the

                   right to rebut that evidence.

 

                   The supporter accompanying each person may not pose questions or

                   intervene in the proceedings, but may talk quietly or pass notes to the party he

                   or she is accompanying in a non-disruptive manner.

 

                   Unless both parties agree, neither will be present to hear the other testify.

                   Provision will be made for each of the parties to watch a simultaneous

                   transmission of the testimony on closed circuit television. Witnesses' testimony

                   will also be made available to the parties by simultaneous closed circuit

                   transmission.

 

                   Both the complainant and the accused student may submit written questions to

                   the hearing panel to be asked of the other party and of potential witnesses, at

                   the discretion of the hearing panel. Such questions may be submitted in

                   advance of their own appearance before the hearing panel, during breaks in

                   testimony by the witness, or subsequent to learning of testimony given before

                   the panel. This may require that a witness who has already testified be

                   recalled.

 

                   A verbatim transcript of testimony will be kept for the use of the panel and for

                   purposes of any appeal. Each party will be given copies of any submissions or

                   evidentiary material that is submitted to the panel.

 

                   Each party shall have an opportunity to present a written or oral argument in

                   support of his or her position, based on the evidence submitted, before the

                   panel retires for its deliberations.

 

                   Both administrative members of the hearing panel must be convinced by clear

                   and convincing evidence that a violation of the sexual misconduct policy has

                   occurred, but unanimity of the panel is not required for a finding of a violation.

 

                   Prior to the closing of the hearing, both the complainant and the accused may

                   submit an "impact statement" to the panel. In the event of a finding of a

                   violation of the policy, the panel may consider the impact statements in making

                   a recommendation for a penalty, but shall not consider them in the absence of

                   the finding of a violation.

 

                   All deliberations of the hearing panel will be held in private.

 

                   The decision of the hearing panel shall be in a written report and shall include

                   the rationale for the decision and any supporting evidence. The student

                   member, if any, may submit a dissent. The decision should in most cases be

                   rendered within ten days of completion of the hearing. The written report will

                   also recommend an appropriate sanction if a violation has been found.

 

                   After the Hearing

 

                   If no violation of the policy is found, a summary report shall be sent to both

                   parties and notice of the decision to the Dean of Students of the accused's

                   school. A detailed report of the hearing shall be prepared and retained by the

                   Director. If the decision of the panel is that a violation of the policy has

                   occurred, a detailed report of testimony and findings shall be forwarded to

                   both students and the Dean of Students of the accused's school, with a

                   recommendation for a penalty. The Dean of Students shall then inform the

                   accused student of the penalty he or she is imposing, and inform the student of

                   his or her appeal rights in writing. An appeal must be submitted within thirty

                   days of the proposed imposition of any penalty to the Dean of the accused

                   student's school.

 

                   On appeal, the Dean shall review the record and may consult with the

                   members of the hearing panel, but ordinarily shall not consider new evidence.

                   Both the complainant and the accused student will be advised of the outcome

                   of any appeal.

 

                   On an annual basis, the Director will prepare a report of disciplinary

                   proceedings for submission to the subcommittee overseeing the disciplinary

                   procedure. For purposes of this review, all identifying information will be

                   removed from the report.