Campus

Town hall on sexual assault policy scheduled for March 13

Updated: March 1, 2:37 p.m.

University President Lee Bollinger told Spectator this morning that a town hall meeting on sexual and gender-based misconduct policy will take place March 13 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Deans from all four undergraduate schools and some other administrators will attend the event, which is open to all students. Bollinger announced the town hall last month in an email outlining the other changes to policy, including the release of aggregated, anonymous data about the way the university adjudicates sexual assault.

Since Bollinger’s announcement yesterday, there has been some concern that the meeting time—the Thursday night before spring break, when many students will have already left campus—will prevent some students from attending.

University Student Affairs Committee co-chairs Akshay Shah, SEAS ’14, and Matthew Chou, CC ’14, said that the meeting date wasn’t a strategic choice, but the result of scheduling conflicts.

“I’ve been a part of those conversations and it’s really about scheduling,” Chou said after Friday's University Senate plenary. “Getting all those people together is really a challenge. There is no bad intent.”

The activist group No Red Tape, a student group committed to fighting sexual violence on campus, released a statement in response to Bollinger's announcement of the town hall meeting. Earlier in the day, the group put up red tape around campus for a few hours to call attention to administrative inaction regarding the issue of sexual violence. Read the group's statement after the jump (emphasis theirs).

February 28, 2014

Dear President Bollinger and the Columbia administration,

We were encouraged by President Bollinger’s announcement at today’s University Senate meeting that the administration has finally set a date for the first Town Hall on issues of sexual violence on campus.

We would like to reiterate some important points that have been missing from President Bollinger’s announcement:

1. It is crucial that, during these meetings, the decision-makers and service providers who design and implement the relevant policies and resources be physically present in the space to engage with students directly and answer questions. President Bollinger announced during the Senate meeting that these forums would be hosted by deans from the four undergraduate schools. While the deans are an important part of this conversation and are, in fact, personally implicated in some of the most serious allegations, it is imperative that representatives from the relevant decision-making and service-providing bodies be present. Again, we reiterate that we must have at least one opportunity to engage directly with representatives from the following bodies: Title IX coordinators from both Columbia and Barnard; Sexual Violence Response, the Rape Crisis Center, and Consent 101 coordinators; Health Services, Columbia Psychological Services and Furman Counseling Center; and the Office of Student Services for Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct, including those who select, train, and supervise the hearing panels.

2. Given that, up to now, discussions about reform have only been open to a few select students, we challenge the administration to actively reach out to student groups and communities whose voices have been missing during this conversation. If the ultimate goal of these forums is to engage with the diversity of student concerns and experiences and to shape policies and resources that reflect and support us, it is imperative to actively publicize this event and seek broad engagement.

3. The administration has scheduled this event for the last Thursday night before Spring Break. Many students will be leaving or have already left campus at that time. In the future, it is vital to keep student schedules in mind when planning these town halls. This oversight underscores the need for future forums and increased student input in this continuing process.

We look forward to this first of many community discussions and to participating actively in this process.

No Red Tape of Columbia University

NoRedTapeCU@gmail.com

Yasemin Akcaguner contributed reporting.

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