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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Sexual Misconduct Policy: What you need to know

What does the policy say?

According to the new university Sexual Misconduct Policy, almost all faculty, staff and administrators of Saint Joseph’s University are now “responsible employees.”

“The role of a “responsible employee” is not to investigate a situation [of sexual misconduct] but rather to “report that matter to the Title IX Coordinator, not to try to ‘solve’ the matter themselves.”

The new policy is in compliance with the Clery Act and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2013. Members of the ad hoc committee, who were tasked with writing the new policy, had to determine who they would assign as “responsible employees” of the university. After consideration, members of the committee determined responsible employees to be all faculty, staff, and administrators with a few exceptions.

These exceptions include: trained and licensed counselors, clergy members or pastoral counselors who are “acting in this capacity” and the Rape Education and Prevention Program faculty advisor, Raquel Bergen, Ph.D.

The policy also outlines that all student employees are considered “responsible employees,” as well.

Different institutions have complied with these requirements in different ways and designated different individuals as responsible employees. For example, at Tem- ple University different individuals each year are designated as Equal Opportunity Ombudspersons. These individuals, according to the university’s Preventing and Addressing Sexual Harassment Policy, handle informal complaints and treat them as confidential matters, but depending on the circumstances may report it to the Title IX Coordinator.

With the implementation of the new policy and the new designations, all employees of the university had to attend a 90-minute training session that reviewed the Sexual Misconduct Policy, various definitions, procedures for reporting and exceptions to reporting.

Attendance was taken at each of the sessions and online sessions will be provided for employees who were unable to attend in person according to Sharon Eisenmann, vice president of human resources.

What does the policy mean?

According to the policy, if a student reports an incident of sexual misconduct, which includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual exploitation, and stalking, to a designated “responsible employee” that employee is then obligated to share that information with the Mary Elaine Perry, Ph.D., Title IX coordinator.

However, certain individuals are exceptions to this rule (see left). These individuals can maintain confidentiality when a student reports to them.

Perry will then make the determination of whether or not the report will move forward into an official university investigation.

Once the incident is reported, the pol- icy outlines that if a complaint wishes to remain confidential or not pursue an investigation, the Title IX coordinator will determine whether or not these requests can be honored based on circumstances surrounding the incident. For example, if the incident involved a minor or a weapon, or if the accused respondent has a criminal history or a previous policy violation then the university has a greater weight to move forward with an official investigation.

Perry said that at this point, there is a responsibility of not only maintaining the safety of the individual but also the entire campus community.

“We’ve learned from years of differ- ent kinds of research that the chances are if someone assaults one person they have done it before and or they will do it again, and so the obligation is to the safety of the campus community,” said Perry.

The complaints can choose to not participate in the investigation, though, if he or she wishes.

The policy also states that the incident may have involved drugs or alcohol and that “a student…may be hesitant to make a report because of potential consequences for his or her own conduct.” But according to both the policy and Perry, the student who reports sexual misconduct will not be subject to any disciplinary action.

Perry emphasized that the intention of the new policy is to make campus a safer place for students and help provide better support for students who have been affected by incidents of sexual violence.

“At Saint Joseph’s people care. People care about each other, and so we want to do the right thing.”

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