Swarthmore College Takes Steps to Address Sexual Misconduct on Campus

swarthmore_logoSwarthmore College in suburban Philadelphia is one of several institutions of higher education that currently is under investigation by the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education. Two students filed a complained that alleged that the college failed to properly handle reports of sexual harassment and violence on campus.

Swarthmore is not waiting for the results of the investigation before it takes action. The college hired an outside consulting group to assess its policies and procedures and that group has filed a preliminary report that includes steps the college can take immediately to address the problem.

about_chopp1In a letter to the campus community, Swarthmore College President Rebecca Chopp stated: “At Swarthmore, we deeply value each of our individual members. We share a strong sense of interconnectedness, of mutual respect and shared purpose as an academic community. When individuals are harmed, we must respond quickly and with our full support. When our community is not providing the right environment for academic and social flourishing, we must fix it. Our common goal must be to prevent all forms of sexual abuse, assault, harassment, gender identity violence, and intimidation. One incident is one too many on our campus. We know, however, that sexual misconduct does occur at Swarthmore and in the world at large; thus, we must take strategic steps to prevent it, combat it, adhere to due process, enforce sanctions when it occurs, and provide support to survivors.”

President Chopp announced that the college would conduct a search for a full-time Title IX coordinator and appointed an interim coordinator until a permanent official was hired. In addition a team of deputy coordinators have been appointed to thoroughly review all Title IX complaints. A new hearings officer will be hired to adjudicate complaints of sexual harassment and violence. The department of public safety will hire and train a new officer who will be responsible for conducting investigations related to sexual misconduct and training other officers in the proper procedures. And, President Chopp stated that prevention, education, and programming devoted to sexual misconduct will be expanded.

Mark Anskis, associate director of media communications at Swarthmore, told WIAReport, “Our goal is to become a leader — best-in-class in the country — in tackling these issues fairly and comprehensively. Nothing is more important to us than the safety and security of our students, and no incident of sexual misconduct, abuse, or assault is acceptable to this community. None.”

Filed Under: Sexual Assault/Harassment


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