Refresher on UChicago’s Sexual Misconduct Policy
From: Michele Rasmussen, Dean of Students in the University, and Bridget Collier, Interim Associate Provost & Director, Office for Equal Opportunity Programs, Title IX Coordinator for the University
To: Graduate Students
Date: May 22, 2017
Subject: Refresher on UChicago’s Sexual Misconduct Policy
During recent campus discussions on the proposal for unionization of graduate students, there have been misleading claims about how the University approaches confidentiality, the role of the student adviser, and no-contact directives in sexual misconduct matters. We are compelled to address these claims and provide factual information to our students. Stopping sexual misconduct and addressing it appropriately when it happens is a shared priority and the University has taken many steps in recent years to enhance its policy, response, training, staff capacity and education around this issue. Our efforts have benefited greatly from the tireless advocacy and activism of many committed students, alumni, RSOs and our Student Government.
Above all, it is crucial to encourage individuals to come forward with any allegations of sexual misconduct. To that end, we want to clarify aspects of the University’s policy:
All students are expressly informed of their right to have a person of their choice present for support at any point in the process — from the initial report through a disciplinary hearing. They are never asked or compelled to come alone.
Confidentiality on the part of all participants is an important element of the disciplinary process. The University’s Policy on Harassment, Discrimination, and Sexual Misconduct (http://harassmentpolicy.uchicago.edu/page/policy) stresses that breaches of confidentiality can “erode the community’s trust in this process,” and run the risk of retaliation (unintended or intended) against those who participate in the process. Most U.S. colleges and universities follow similar confidentiality policies, which are consistent with and in some aspects mandated by law.
That being said, there are some express exceptions to the principle of confidentiality, including the participants’ right to share the results of disciplinary proceedings alleging domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking. Complainants and respondents also can share information with individuals with whom they have a special relationship, including close family members, legal counsel, and health care providers.
A No Contact Directive is primarily applied as an interim measure to ensure that persons involved in a sexual misconduct matter are insulated from additional interactions with each other. While it may be included as a remedy implemented after the investigation and resolution process, it is not presented to complainants and respondents as the only means of resolving a case. University personnel have worked with survivor advocates to ensure transparency in the process and explanation of such directives to students.
The University’s policy is strong and functional, and it compares favorably with policies and processes maintained by our peers. The University regularly revises the policy based on experience and legal requirements, and it is not a matter that is suitable for collective bargaining with any labor union.
We are proud that many members of our community have collaborated in recent years to build trust and confidence in the University’s approach to addressing and responding to sexual misconduct, and the University will continue to engage directly with students to attend to this critically important issue. We encourage anyone with questions or suggestions to contact us directly by calling or emailing Bridget Collier, Interim Associate Provost & Director, Office for Equal Opportunity Programs, Title IX Coordinator for the University, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Equal Opportunity Programs