Dear Campus Community,
A central measure of any community is how we treat one another, in both public and private moments. In a residential academic community, where we live and interact with one another intensively in the search for knowledge and personal growth, the obligation to act with respect and supportiveness to one another takes on yet heightened importance.
Sexual violence and other forms of sexual misconduct are fundamentally incompatible with membership in this community. The College has long had a set of policies and procedures in place, reinforced by educational programming, designed to prevent sexual misconduct and to respond effectively when violations take place.
It is an appropriate moment for us to undertake a comprehensive examination of our policies, procedures, and programming on sexual harassment and other forms of sexual misconduct. As a matter of good practice, we should periodically evaluate all of our policies to ensure that they remain effective. In addition, in May, the Department of Education released new regulations that set out baseline expectations for Title IX policies and we should assess their impact on our overall approach. Our goal is not merely to comply with federal law, which, of course, we must and will do. It is also to ensure that we are meeting the higher standards we set for ourselves as a community.
In that spirit, I am writing to announce formation of the Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Task Force (the “Task Force”). Dr. Anne S. Douds, who has a long legal professional history of working in civil rights, will chair the Task Force. Amanda Blaugher, the College Title IX Compliance Officer, as well as a representative from the Adams County Victim Witness Services Office, will serve on the Task Force. The College’s legal counsel will be available to provide advice as needed. The members I appointed to the Task Force are listed at the conclusion of this letter.
The work of the Task Force is of foundational importance. With a focus on evidenced-based best practices, the group will assess ways to reduce the incidence of sexual misconduct on our campus; to improve campus climate and campus awareness concerning sexual misconduct; to enhance the support we provide to survivors of sexual misconduct; to ensure that our processes are procedurally fair, equitable, and as timely as possible; and to confirm our compliance with state and federal law.
As part of its work, the Task Force will be expected to review Gettysburg College’s sexual misconduct policies, systematically examine the literature on best practices, and conduct a thorough analysis of the key components of effective sexual misconduct policies, from education/awareness through post-proceedings. It will also assess the pros and cons of grounding our approach in concepts of restorative justice.
The Task Force will seek feedback from the entire campus community through a variety of means. To broaden the scope of community participation in this effort, the College will be launching a separate Student Advisory Committee to provide insights and feedback to the Task Force. The Student Advisory Committee will meet bi-weekly with a subgroup of the Task Force for issue-specific discussions. Students who are interested in being considered for the advisory committee can submit a short application here by December 31, 2020.
The Task Force will meet periodically through the end of the spring and provide monthly action reports to the president that will include both long and short-term recommendations.
Throughout the spring semester, the Task Force will seek feedback from the entire campus community. Each week, a link to the Task Force’s Community Comment Box will be in the Digest asking everyone in the community to provide thoughts, insights, or resources on a designated topic. The Community Comment Box also will be available at any time through the Task Force’s website, found here. Comments will be used to inform the Task Force’s interim and final recommendations, and Task Force reports will include aggregated data from comments received. The first topic will be Education and Awareness.
I encourage your interest and participation in this very important work.
Members of the Task Force:
- Chair: Anne Douds, Assistant Professor, Public Policy
- Amanda Blaugher, Title IX Coordinator
- Christopher Bloom Ford, Assistant Director of Career Engagement
- Jennifer Bloomquist, Associate Provost for Faculty Development and Dean of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Programs
- Diane Brennan, Academic Administrative Assistant
- Carol Cantele, Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach
- Daisy Chebbet, Staff Psychologist
- Vernon Cisney, Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies
- Scott Hancock, Associate Professor, History
- Sydney Kaplan, Junior and Co-President of Student’s Against Sexual Assault
- Gretchen Natter, Assistant Dean of College Life, Center for Public Service
- Adriana Quinonez Solano, First year student
- Mark Seiber, Junior and President of Interfraternity Council
- Alecea Standlee, Assistant Professor, Sociology
- Camille Traczek, Junior, Co-President of Student’s Against Sexual Assault, and student researcher for Task Force
- Kyra Van Dyke, Senior and student researcher for Task Force
- Charlotte Werbe, Assistant Professor, French