Joan Slavin, Director of the University Sexual Harassment Prevention Office, and Amanda DaSilva, the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Students, gave a presentation at Wednesday’s ASG meeting about what the office does, the University’s sexual misconduct policies and the complaint resolution process.
Slavin began by stating that the office is not able to discuss any ongoing investigations, in regards to the investigation of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity and another fraternity unnamed by NU for alleged incidences of drugging and sexual assault. She added, however, that any students who have information or know others who have information about the alleged incidents should come to the office with that knowledge.
The two talked about the new centralization of all matters of sexual misconduct within the office, the revised sexual misconduct policy that was rolled out in September and the data published in their first annual sexual misconduct data report.
DaSilva outlined that the office can still offer assistance for incidents that happen off campus or while a student is not at school, and the two then went over the graphs shown in the report, which include respondent affiliation, type of allegation, the type of sexual misconduct reports filed and how they were handled.
Each panel that hears a sexual misconduct case consists of three faculty and staff chosen from a pool that is trained every year in order to ensure fair and just rulings, the two explained, and the office is always trying to improve the training these faculty and staff receive.
DaSilva assured that both parties on either side of an investigation are given the same information simultaneously to ensure a fair process. Slavin closed with five tips for organization leaders, including not doing investigations within the organizations themselves (but rather calling the office) and encouraging members to come to them with any information or reports.
ASG Senators Lars Benson and Gabrielle Bienasz described and defended a resolution seeking to clarify ASG’s position on the recent sexual assault allegations and NU’s response. This included policies to increase funding for CARE, a call on the University to clarify its zero-tolerance policy in dealing with perpetrators who are found guilty of rape or sexual assault by ensuring they no longer have a place on Northwestern’s campus, and a statement that appropriate action by the University must include permanently removing individuals if they are found responsible of sexual misconduct and institutions if they are found responsible of fostering a culture of sexual assault or violence.
A Q&A followed, in which senators asked questions pertaining to topics including the difficulty of removing the SAE chapter on campus permanently because their headquarters are located here, and clarifying the wording behind some of the resolution’s statements.
Executive Vice President Macs Vinson spoke about a proposed 2% increase to the Student Activities Fee (about $10 more per student per year) in order to better compensate speakers and bring better speakers and performers to campus.
Two ASG members gave a presentation on an Association of Big Ten Students (ABTS) conference held February 3-5 at Ohio State University. Speaking about their experiences in different breakdown committees at the conference, they provided suggestions for hiring sexual assault victim advocates at NU, which they likened to personal lawyers for someone filing a report with the Sexual Harassment Prevention Office. The also suggested measures to improve course affordability, sustainability and campus safety, citing examples at other Big Ten universities.
A proposal to bring Cuban hip-hop duo “Obsesión” to campus for classroom discussions, a WNUR interview and a live performance, all of which would be free to students, passed unanimously, meaning ASG will provide funding to bring the group to NU.