Swarthmore Report Outlines Additional Title IX, Clery Compliance Recommendations

Swarthmore College has released the final independent review of its sexual assault and harassment policies, practices, and procedures.

The commission of the study was prompted by Clery Act and Title IX complaints filed last spring. Students alleged that the school discourages students from reporting crimes, underreports incidents, doesn’t issue timely reports, doesn’t report potential sanctions, and intimidates, discriminates and retaliates against sexual assault survivors and their advocates.

The final report, written by an independent team of experts from Margolis Healy and Associates, commended the college for implementing recommendations made in an interim report released last summer.

The report also identified several other areas that Swarthmore should continue to address, specifically with regard to campus culture, prevention and education, communications and additional augmentation of training, policies and operations. Those recommendations include:

  • Decide on the focus and framing for the College’s primary prevention efforts.
  • Develop a mechanism for surveying the campus climate and in particular to assess the changes to Swarthmore’s policies, procedures, and reporting options.
  • Consider increasing the number of professional staff hours specifically dedicated to primary prevention by assigning responsibility for specific areas of prevention to multiple staff members as well as student peer leader groups.
  • Closely examine staffing in residential life to ensure sufficient capacity to provide prevention programming in the residential setting.
  • Ensure that staff members charged with prevention have sufficient time and institutional support to remain current in this rapidly evolving field, e.g., through conferences, trainings, webinars, library support or research assistance (i.e. to assist staff in reviewing current research literature). Where necessary, consider increasing staffing to provide continuity and consistency in prevention programming.
  • Review any relevant findings from existing student surveys and use these results to inform prevention efforts. Conduct regular assessments of education and prevention activities and use this information to inform outreach, education, and prevention efforts.
  • Compile existing data to inform their efforts.
  • Examine the social environment and in particular the events that the College identifies as posing a high risk for excessive alcohol consumption and other dangerous behaviors. Emphasize responsible and legal alcohol consumption in all programming. Expand resources available for dry programming, particularly events led by students.
  • Continue to provide regular updates to the community about its efforts to identify and address the issues of sexual and gender violence.
  • Ensure the widest possible dissemination of policies and procedures related to sexual assault and harassment and reporting options.
  • Ensure information about confidential and anonymous reporting is widely distributed to the campus community.
  • Use a variety of means to ensure that the community is aware of and educated about the adjudication process.
  • Formally designate the Title IX Coordinator as the College officer responsible for the Policy on Sexual Assault; finalize the Interim Policy on Sexual Assault by the summer of 2014 for all campus constituencies; and require an annual review of the final policy.
  • Provide training to ensure that confidential resources understand the grievance procedures and can answer questions about them for potential complainants.
  • Identify and train all sexual misconduct first responders on appropriate response to initial reports.
  • Ensure sexual misconduct investigators receive comprehensive and ongoing training.
  • Ensure the College has an appropriate software system to track all reported incidents of sexual and gender violence, with robust reporting options and coordination with Public Safety’s records management system, for statistical reporting.
  • Offer several adjudicatory options.
  • Immediately task the Clery Act Coordinating Committee with guiding the implementation of the Campus SaVE.

In response to the final report, Swarthmore College has vowed to:

  • Establish a comprehensive, integrated prevention and education effort led by Associate Dean Lili Rodriguez, Worth Health Center Director Beth Kotarski, and Interim Title IX Coordinator Patricia Flaherty Fischette;
  • Evaluate how best to support students through residential life, including increasing prevention programming in residence halls;
  • Establish a confidential peer-to-peer support group that complies with state training requirements and that students can practically undertake;
  • Finalize its interim sexual assault and harassment policy for students and revising policies for faculty and staff;
  • Expand its trainings to reach even more members of the community;
  • Expand consent workshops;
  • Forge new partnerships with Haverford and Bryn Mawr to share best practices and possibly new approaches in its adjudication model;
  • Continue to refine its adjudication process and options;
  • Publish an annual report summarizing its judicial cases;
  • Continue to gather relevant data about assault incidents, using new software to track cases more efficiently and analyze them for trends and new opportunities for prevention;
  • Continue to improve its nonalcoholic social options and working with the SWATeam to support and monitor events at which alcohol is served.

Read the report.

Read Swarthmore’s response.

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