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Brown Sexual Assault Task Force Issues Final Report

Tuesday, April 07, 2015


Brown University President Christina Paxon

In a letter sent to the Brown University students, faculty and staff Tuesday afternoon, President Christina Paxson released the final report of the University’s Sexual Assault Task Force. The 63-page report and draft recommended policy build on an interim report released in December.

The Sexual Assault Task Force, established by President Paxson at the end of the last academic year, drafted a proposed policy on sexual and gender-based violence and harassment that defines prohibited conduct and provides clear procedures for reporting, investigating, considering and resolving allegations of prohibited conduct.

The draft policy is included in the final report of the 23-member task force of students, faculty, and staff that began work in the fall and presented its interim report in December.

In addition to the proposed new sexual misconduct policy, the final report includes several recommendations - raising awareness about issues of sexual violence, centralizing prevention and enforcement efforts in one office, training investigators, and increasing education, among other initiatives. 

“In sharing this report, I share also my belief that our campus is uniquely positioned to confront the issue of sexual and gender-based violence at the center of discussions at higher education institutions across the country,” Paxson said in her message to campus. “Even as various incidents have prompted deep consideration and questioning of ourselves as a community around awareness and response to sexual violence, we have the advantage of so many members of our campus actively galvanized around these issues.”

The task force’s final report offers a dozen recommendations in its executive summary, among them:

-Implementation of a unified policy defining sexual and gender-based harassment, sexual violence, relationship and interpersonal violence, and stalking as prohibited conduct. 

-Centralizing all University processes that deal with sexual and gender-based violence and harassment — including efforts at prevention and education as well as enforcement — in a newly created office for managing issues surrounding Title IX, the antidiscrimination law establishing guidelines for campuses regarding sexual and gender-based violence. 

-Development and promulgation of standard protocols for investigations conducted by professional investigators and University offices — as well as standard protocols and practices for administering medical and forensic exams and toxicology testing — to ensure thorough, fair, comprehensive and accurate investigations. 

-Mandatory annual education about sexual and gender-based violence and harassment for all faculty, staff, and students, and mandatory training at orientation for all new undergraduate, graduate, and medical students.

-Annual tracking and reporting of information by the Title IX Office to the campus and a standing advisory committee of faculty, students and staff that would review the campus’ progress every three years, in addition to an assessment by the Title IX Office of the resources made available by the University to address issues covered by the policy.

-Availability of advice from legal counsel for both complainants and respondents involved in University proceedings, including a list of attorneys who may be willing to provide advice on a pro bono basis for complainants or respondents who are unable to afford it. 

The report and its recommendations provide an opportunity for Brown “to make significant and lasting progress” as a united campus, the task force members wrote in their cover letter presenting the report to Paxson.

“We are under no illusion that adopting all or most of our recommendations will eradicate violence, bias, discrimination, exploitation of privilege, and abuse surrounding sexual and gender-based violence and harassment on the Brown campus,” the task force wrote. “But we recognize that generations of Brown students, faculty, and staff have dedicated significant portions of their lives striving to do just that, both on our campus and in communities large and small throughout the world.”

“The final report reflects intensive analysis and acknowledges the early actions we have taken as a campus, but certainly is not the end of our work as a community to confront sexual and gender-based violence and harassment,” Paxson said. “The further action we take and policies we adopt will consider not only federal guidance for colleges and universities nationwide, but also the specific culture and needs of our campus. The strength of Brown is the deep care and dedication that members of our campus feel for this community — the sustained dedication of students, faculty and staff working together to effect lasting change,” concluded Paxon.


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