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Presidential Steering Committee on Sexual Misconduct

Convocation

Dear Members of the Dartmouth Community,

President Hanlon announced the creation of the Presidential Steering Committee in late January. The Committee has met weekly since mid-February, and has held six community listening listening sessions to present its work to date and to solicit feedback from those attending these sessions on this work. This site is to provide information to those who could not attend the meetings in person, to solicit both comments and questions, and to provide feedback on common questions the community may have. Our report is due to Dartmouth’s senior leadership in May of 2018.

In addressing our charge, the Committee has reviewed our current policies and procedures, key federal documents, and procedures and policies from 20 other colleges/universities that have established policies/programs noted for working well and yet, which also incorporate different approaches to this complex area. Some of the key documents and policies from a few of these schools have been included as links from this site.

Please find below specific information on the committee composition and charge, as well as highlights of the key areas we have discussed.

We welcome your feedback and your questions.

Respectfully,

Leslie P. Henderson
Chair of the Committee

 Committee Membership

  • Leslie Henderson (Committee Chair): Professor of Physiology & Neurobiology; Dean of Faculty Affairs, Geisel; Title IX Deputy Coordinator
  • Elizabeth Agosto: Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Arts & Sciences
  • Victoria Blodgett: Assistant Dean for Postdoctoral Affairs, Graduate and Advanced Studies
  • Kristi Clemens: Interim Title IX Coordinator and Clery Act Compliance Officer
  • Evelynn Ellis: Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity
  • Mark McPeek: Professor of Biological Sciences
  • Allison O’Connell: Title IX Coordinator and Clery Act Compliance Officer
  • Brian Pogue: Professor of Engineering Science, Thayer; Director of MD/PhD Programs, Thayer
  • Richard Sansing: Professor of Accounting; Associate Dean for Faculty, Tuck
  • Dana Scaduto: Associate General Counsel
  • Megan Sobel: Senior Associate Athletics Director
  • Lucas Swaine: Associate Professor of Government

Support for the Committee Provided by: Mary Lamar Nicholas (Title IX Office)

Charge:

Identifying areas where Dartmouth should consider:          

  • How to incorporate best practices and approaches for educational and training opportunities
  • Improvements to our campus-wide sexual misconduct and consensual relationship policies and procedures
  • Ways to achieve greater clarity, consistency and coherence between these policies

Outreach, Awareness and Adherence to Standards:

What are the Best Mechanisms Across the Community?

The Committee recognizes this goal as key: ensuring that all in our community understand policies, procedures, and our expected standards for conduct is critical to providing a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all. As such, we have considered how to best use/combine a variety of approaches with the goal that all members of the community—students, faculty, staff and other individuals who interact with Dartmouth’s missions—understand expectations for appropriate behavior and their responsibilities and rights with respect to Sexual Respect (Sexual Misconduct).

Current mechanisms for transmitting this information include:

  • Orientation sessions for undergraduate, professional and graduate students
  • Orientation sessions for newly hired faculty and staff
  • Online and on-site training for existing students, faculty and staff
  • Presentations by Title IX Coordinator and Deputy Title IX Coordinators to departments and other constituencies

Are there others?

What are ways in which we can ensure that information not only reaches all that we need to reach, but also that it is understood and incorporated into how we comport ourselves?

Considerations of Policies and Procedures:

A. Content and Constituencies:

  • Should Dartmouth adopt a single policy to address all areas of sexual misconduct?
  • Should this policy cover all constituencies of the institution (faculty, staff and students, as well as relevant third parties)?
  • Should the policy(ies) be housed at a single institutional website (Sexual Respect website)?

An important part of the Committee’s discussions underscored the fact that Dartmouth could strive to have a single policy (i.e., one that covered all areas of sexual misconduct and all constituencies), but that procedure (e.g., determination of responsibility, sanctioning) could nonetheless vary among the different constituencies. In both Committee discussions and in sessions with the Community, identifying the pros and cons of having similar or disparate policies and similar or disparate processes across the constituencies has been a key focus of deliberation.

B. Identity and Responsibilities of the Investigator

The current Unified Disciplinary Procures for Sexual Assault by Students and Student Organizations (UDP) stipulates that Dartmouth shall designate a qualified and well-trained Investigator to conduct an investigation, prepare a report, and, ordinarily also make a determination of responsibility in cases of sexual assault by students or student organizations. The Title IX Coordinator may also designate an Investigator in other instances of sexual misconduct if appropriate. Considering this model, if an Investigator is designated:

  • Should this model extend to sexual assault for all campus constituencies (see above for definition)?
  • Should the Investigator make a determination of responsibility, or should the Investigator make a recommendation of responsibility to a separate body that would determine responsibility?
  • Should the Investigator make neither a recommendation nor a determination of responsibility, but solely deliver a report to a separate body, which would be charged with this task?

C. Responsibility Determined by Others

If responsibility is determined by a separate panel (not the Investigator) or others:

  • Who comprises this panel?
  • What training requirements would be needed to serve as an identified member of this panel?
  • Should responsibility be determined by trained individuals within Dartmouth’s Human Resources Office (HR)?
  • If by HR, for all community constituencies?
  • Should responsibility be determined by a single individual (e.g., Provost or Dean)?
  • If a single individual, what are the requirements for training/qualifications that this individual must have to fulfill this role?
  • If a single individual, for which constituencies?
  • How do any of these approaches intersect with current policies (e.g., the UDP or the policy entitled the Organization of the Faculty at Dartmouth College, OFDC)?

D. Sanctioning

Irrespective of how responsibility is determined, should sanctioning be determined:

  • For students: by current policies/procedures, including the UDP, and, where not specified by the UDP, other review committees (e.g., COS for undergraduates; the CSPC for medical students)?
  • For Faculty: By the relevant Dean in accordance with policies set out in the OFDC?
  • For Staff: By Human Resources?
  • For third parties (e.g., alumni or individuals providing externships off-campus)?
  • What are the pros and cons of having different procedures for different constituencies?
  • What are the pros and cons of having this authority rest with a single person as opposed to a limited (i.e., 3 or 5 people) group?
  • Are there other aspects of sanctioning that Dartmouth should consider that are not currently implemented?

E. Consensual Relations Policy

With respect to the consensual relations policy:

  • An "Instructor" is any faculty member (regardless of rank or permanent or visiting status), post-doctoral fellow or associate who supervises or evaluates students. Undergraduate and graduate student teaching assistants also are considered “Instructors” with respect to students over whom they have academic responsibility.
  • A “Staff member” is any person who is not an Instructor but who has authority over students, including deans of any rank, athletic coaches, advisers and directors of student organizations, and others who advise, mentor or evaluate students.

Current Dartmouth policy stipulates that:

  • No Instructor shall enter into a romantic or sexual relationship with a student over whom that Instructor has academic responsibility or is likely to have academic responsibility in the future (for example, because of that student’s intended major), regardless of whether the relationship would be consensual. Conversely, no Instructor shall exercise academic responsibility over a student with whom the Instructor has or has had a romantic or sexual relationship, regardless of whether the relationship is or was consensual. 
  • No Instructor shall have a romantic or sexual relationship with a Dartmouth undergraduate, regardless of whether the Instructor has or is likely to have academic responsibility over the student. 
  • No Staff member shall exercise such responsibility with respect to a student with whom that Staff member has had a romantic or sexual relationship in the past, regardless of whether the relationship was consensual.
  • In unusual circumstances, responsible deans (or divisional deans, in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences), in their discretion, may permit departures from this policy provided that appropriate conflict management procedures, such as transfer of evaluation responsibility, are feasible and are put into place.

Should the blanket policy restricting sexual/romantic relationships between all faculty/staff (independent of whether or not they have academic responsibility over the student) and undergraduates be extended to:

  1. All graduate students?
  2. All postdoctoral fellows (i.e., non-employees on training grants receiving stipend support)?
  3. Postdoctoral scholars not on training grants (who are considered employees)?

F. Others

We welcome input on the questions and considerations posed above as well as others that may not have been directly noted on this site.

F. Policy and Guidance Links:

Office for Civil Rights: Sex Discrimination 
Dartmouth’s Policies and Procedures: Sexual Respect 
Organization of the Faculty of Dartmouth College (OFDC)
Grievance Policy (Dartmouth College) 

Submit feedback

The Presidential Steering Committee on Sexual Misconduct welcomes your comments. Anonymous comments are welcome, however, if you would like to receive a response, please include your name and email.
















Last Updated: 7/25/18