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The Carletonian

Don’t blame Carleton: those are federal policies

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I want to be clear: I am writing this article to provide perspective on the policies, not to undermine or denigrate or otherwise be unsupportive of any complainants who have gone through the process.

The recent petition circulating the Carleton community has weighed on me heavily the past few days. This petition calls for reform surrounding the current policies with the goal to create an equitable sexual misconduct process with fair sanctioning. During my time at Carleton I was highly informed on the policies surrounding sexual misconduct as a student at large, as well as in my roles as an RA,an advocate with CAASHA, and as a member of the Community Board on Sexual Misconduct. I hope that my previous experiences can bring something to further the discussion surrounding sexual misconduct policies at Carleton.

During my freshman fall, I filed more than two community concern forms regarding instances of sexual harassment I experienced. I met first with my RA, then the Dean of Students office and also my hall director. I was impressed with how supportive and empowering every- one was as I navigated my experiences. They discussed options with me, and were supportive of the decisions I made regarding my experiences. They followed my lead and complied with what I wanted and needed from the situation. This is a large part of why I decided to become an RA, and why I became involved with the CBSM.

I served on the Community Board on Sexual Misconduct for three years at Carleton. Through my involvement with this committee I received ongoing weekly training from the Title IX Lead Team. In our sessions we familiarized ourselves with the policies, discussed what we are allowed to do in terms of sanctioning, and further prepared ourselves for the event we would be asked to serve in a hearing. We also spent a significant amount of time discussing Title IX regulations and changes to federal policy and how they impact and do not impact board decisions. These trainings were thought provoking and sharpened my views on sexual misconduct and Carleton’s policies. Every member on the board is there because they care about making sure that students on our campus feel safe, are supported, and have an equitable, fair misconduct policy and procedures. Being a member of the board was (and continues to be) a transformative experience for my views surrounding feminism, social justice and misconduct.

It has been difficult for me to express my viewpoints surrounding the existence of the petition. I have a unique perspective on the campus policies and procedures as one of only a handful of student members on the CBSM. I will not go into detail about the panels I served on. I will say, however, that the board goes through extensive training, and as someone who had to make difficult decisions surrounding enforcing campus policies, I made the best decisions I could with the information I had, and trust that the other panelists in other hearings do the same.

Discussions surrounding sexual misconduct, as well as the campus policies surrounding misconduct, are fraught with complications, nuances, and grey-area, but I have never doubted whether or not Carleton’s policies were survivor focused. I support Carleton’s campus policies, and want to see them continue to improve with student support. The college has been dedicated to reviewing and modifying the policies for many years, and in my time at Carleton, always strove to make the policies as supportive and transparent as possible. Can they do more? Certainly. I support the petition for the reason that it is promoting discussion and asking ultimately for the policies to be better than they were when I was a student and beforehand. I do not support the hostility that it has brought to the policy and the individuals behind it.

I think it is important for everyone who cares about this to expand their views to see what is happening with the campus policies on a grander scale than just looking at the details of one specific case. The college has an obligation to be in compliance with federal regulations, which are constantly in flux and require creative solutions and amendments to the policy. This is why the campus organized an event before this petition was published, asking for student input on (I believe) proposed changes to the policy. I believe it is on February 11th.

Instead of attacking the Carleton Title IX Lead team, who are students’ greatest allies when it comes to these policies, direct your frustration towards the larger laws and regulations that Carleton must navigate and that inform Carleton policies. Support the work of the Title IX Lead team, the CBSM, and those involved with the policy. They know what they are doing, and care greatly about making sure that students are supported and have their needs met during their time at Carleton. If you are mad, be mad at your representatives for not being more committed to making sure our campus can have the freedom to create policies that are survivor focused. Inform yourselves on the Title IX policies and demand legislation that fosters misconduct policies that are supportive of students.

This is bigger than Carleton; campuses nationwide are facing many of the same barriers. Only students can change the climate of sexual misconduct on their campuses. Become informed. Read the reports the college sends about the campus climate surrounding misconduct. Step up and step in when you notice a friend in need, or see a classmate disrespecting another person’s boundaries. Watch out for your roommates at parties. Speak up for yourself if you want to kiss someone, and respect them if they don’t feel the same way.

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