By Steven Viera, News Editor ||
The College held two sexual misconduct forums — one for members of the faculty and professional staff and another for students—in Stahr Auditorium of Stager Hall Wednesday. The panel served to inform members of the F&M community about changes to Title IX, the College’s response to instances of sexual misconduct, and the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) inquiry into those practices.
In 2011, the federal government announced it would more strictly enforce sections of Title IX pertaining to discrimination and sexual harassment, according to Jan Masland, Title IX coordinator at the College and director of sexual misconduct services. More recently, F&M’s sexual misconduct policies have been the focus of several stories in local newspapers, particularly after the College was named to a list of 87 schools under investigation by OCR for sexual misconduct procedures. In response, Masland said that members of the administration wanted to host an open forum where members of the F&M community could learn about sexual misconduct policies and ask questions.
The panel opened with remarks by Dan Porterfield, president of the College, who then introduced the panelists: Margaret Hazlett, dean of the College; Pierce Buller, general counsel for the College; and Masland.
“The Panel members were carefully chosen in order to cover the diversity of considerations in our policy making and response to sexual misconduct,” Masland said in an interview. “Dean Hazlett oversees all disciplinary processes for the campus and sets the expectation of respect and civility in our community. Mr. Buller is our general counsel, has been at the forefront of revising our sexual misconduct policy, and has overseen the College’s response to the many revisions in federal law and policy. As the Title IX coordinator and director of sexual misconduct services, I am responsible for overseeing all aspects of our sexual misconduct procedures and response to ensure that it is in compliance not only with federal regulations but with best practices.”
After being introduced by Porterfield, panelists spoke briefly about their roles in addressing sexual misconduct at the College and emphasized the importance of mobilizing the F&M community in support of this issue.
“The only way we’re going to affect change is through you all,” Hazlett said in her remarks to
During the question-and-answer period, students asked about changes to the College’s sexual misconduct policy over time, whether or not the College should publish an incident report describing instances of misconduct, the nature of the relationship between F&M and the Lancaster City Bureau of Police (LCBP), the process of reporting sexual misconduct on campus, the training of the College’s Sexual Misconduct Committee, and more.
Several questions addressed OCR’s investigation into F&M’s response to sexual misconduct. Members of the panel indicated that the investigation comes as the result of a complaint filed to OCR by a single F&M student last year. The College has complied with the investigation and has turned over a series of documents relating to instances of sexual misconduct going back several years. The panelists said that, as of now, F&M has not been notified of the progress of the investigation.
Following the questions and the conclusion of the panel, students had the opportunity to go to Brooks, Bonchek, or New College House and participate in discussions led by members of the College’s Sexual Misconduct
“We pay quite a bit of attention to educating students about how to prevent, avoid, and respond to sexual misconduct,” Masland said. “This is an opportunity to discuss the nuts and bolts of our process and answer questions about the laws, our policies and the College’s procedure in response to a report or complaint of sexual misconduct. We want to discuss the changing climate across the nation and how we as a community can improve the climate, not just on our campus but societally, that imposes unhealthy and unrealistic gender roles and expectations that promote sexual misconduct and exploitation.”
Students affected by sexual misconduct can call the Sexual Assault Response Team at 717-560-7311 to speak confidentially to members of F&M’s Counseling Services, the College Chaplain, or the Head Nurse at Appel Health Services. The line is staffed seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
Junior Steven Viera is the News Editor. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.