Regarding Title IX and the OCR complaint

By Meredith Harper Bonham, Senior Associate Dean of Students/Title IX Coordinator

Dear Editor,

I write in response to concerns expressed by Student Assembly and The Spectator editorial staff about the recent complaint filed with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). As Title IX Coordinator, I am determined to be as transparent as possible regarding the College’s sexual misconduct policy and procedures. I regularly seek opportunities to speak about Title IX with students at Student Assembly meetings, SAVES Peer Advocate trainings, New Student Orientation and RA trainings. In September, the Title IX Task Force, which I chaired, hosted a community forum to receive feedback on the proposed changes to our policy and procedures. In all of these gatherings and educational conversations, I also make clear that I am firmly committed to privacy in specific cases.

I understand that some students are wondering why the College did not notify the student body of the OCR inquiry. The College does not make public announcements when it is notified of legal proceedings, nor can we comment about the particulars of a case. When such a proceeding becomes public, we are able to confirm or deny the existence of the matter, and we can educate our community about the legal process and/or the College policies at issue. The information I shared with Brian Sobotko for last week’s Spectator article adhered to that practice.

Any person dissatisfied with a Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Board (HSMB) outcome—whether that individual is a complainant or respondent—is entitled to file a complaint with OCR. We did not receive the actual complaint in this situation, but simply were notified by OCR that a complaint was filed regarding a particular matter and were asked to provide information about the case and about our Title IX education efforts generally. As reported in The Spectator, an OCR complaint and investigation are not indicative that the College or anyone else has done anything wrong or improper. For privacy reasons and out of concern for the parties involved, I will not comment further about the specific HSMB case that is the subject of the complaint.

Best wishes for a successful end of the semester, and a restful winter break.

—Meredith Harper Bonham, Senior Associate Dean of Students/Title IX Coordinator

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