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I am one of the students on Carleton’s Community Board on Sexual Misconduct. This gives me a unique student perspective. I am intimately aware of Carleton’s policies and processes. I want to make it abundantly clear: This article is based on my knowledge of Carleton’s policies and processes. It is NOT based upon my knowledge of any specific cases.

My goal in writing this is to provide more information about Carleton’s sexual misconduct policies and procedures. The last thing I want to do is make the petitioner, or any survivor, feel attacked or invalidated. I know it must have been incredibly difficult for her to publish her story. I sincerely wish that the complaint process had left her feeling better. I worry that, due to its inherent difficulties, other survivors may be discouraged from utilizing the complaint process. This is disheartening to me, because I think the policies and processes work. I also recognize that our policies and procedures can always be improved, and we are working on doing so now. My hope is that my perspective can provide some solace to survivors so that they feel comfortable coming forward and using the complaint process if they are interested.

The Board is made up of students, faculty, and staff members. We undergo intensive Title IX training from Carleton’s Title IX Lead Team. While the complaint process does not always result in a resolution meeting (hearing), when it does, three board members (one student, one faculty member, and one staff member) hear the case and decide its outcomes.

Like all other members of the Board, I participate in Carleton’s process because I care deeply about survivors and their safety on campus. I participate because I know how important this issue is. I truly believe that Carleton’s current policies and procedures are survivor-centered and they are constantly being improved.

In Carleton’s approach to sexual misconduct, the Board must find it more likely than not that a violation of policy occurred in order to find a respondent in violation of the policy. This standard of evidence is inherently more survivor friendly than requiring proof of guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the standard the criminal justice system utilizes.

When they choose sanctions, the Board always starts by looking at the most extreme sanction (expulsion) and then works down from there. At each step, the Board considers the following questions: “How will this sanction help the survivor?” and “How can we be assured this behavior has stopped or will be stopped to keep our campus safe?”

Importantly, Carleton’s complaint process is not a criminal or legal system, nor does it try to emulate that system. It is my strong belief that lawyers are not necessary in our process. Lawyers are trained in neither Carleton’s policies nor procedures, and so utilizing one does not provide a student with any advantage. Carleton has many advisors that the complainant and respondent can choose from. These Carleton advisors are highly trained in our policies and procedures and support their student throughout the process. Nonetheless, the Office of Civil Rights requires that students may use an advisor of their choice, and thus Carleton cannot (and does not) prevent a student from using an attorney. In our procedures, advisors act as supporters rather than as participants, so advisors (including attorneys) do not speak during resolution meetings.

I hope that many students will attend the community forum on February 11th at 7pm to continue engaging with this discussion. This could be an opportunity for really constructive ideas to be developed. Ultimately, I want other survivors to have confidence that our system works and works for survivors.

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