The newly-formed Office for Sexual and Gender-Based Dispute Resolution, highlighted as one of the cornerstones of the University’s new sexual assault policy, will play no role in investigating cases of sexual misconduct by members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, according to University leaders.
Complaints alleging sexual misconduct committed by professors and staff members within FAS are instead still being investigated and adjudicated by the Office for Faculty Affairs, an internal FAS body—at least for the time being.
Several individuals who work closely with University and FAS policies said that the faculty and staff procedures have not been moved under the jurisdiction of the ODR because the University has decided to prioritize resolving issues with student procedures.
“We want to make sure that [the ODR] is being dedicated to the problems that are first,” FAS Dean Michael D. Smith said in an interview earlier this month.
University Title IX Officer Mia Karvonides added that addressing the procedure for students is the University's primary concern. She said that faculty and staff cases have not yet moved to the ODR because “we’re just not able to do everything at the same time.”
FAS Dean for Faculty Affairs and Planning Nina Zipser, who heads to the OFA, did not return numerous phone calls and requests for comment on the subject.
Both Smith and Karvonides indicated the faculty procedure might eventually be moved under the ODR’s purview.
“Where these processes go in the long run is...up to the discussion that comes out of the faculty, staff, and student discussions through the committee that Alison Johnson is leading,” Smith said.
History Professor Alison Frank Johnson leads the Committee on Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures, which is in the early stages of revising FAS's interim policies and procedures. The committee has hosted several open meetings this semester with various members of the FAS community to solicit feedback.
The committee will ultimately recommend revisions to Smith for review by the end of the term, Johnson said.
Johnson said that although faculty cases of sexual assault will continue to be investigated and adjudicated by the OFA, procedures have still changed somewhat under the new University-wide policy.
Even though dealt with by a different procedural body, faculty and staff members will be held to the same standards of conduct, as outlined in the new University policy.
“The OFA now handles [faculty] cases...in the same way that ODR handles student cases,” Johnson said. “It’s supposed to be the same process.”
That process mandates that verdicts are reached through a test of the “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning that adjudicators believe that the alleged incident more likely happened than did not.
In addition, the timeline for investigations has been truncated from its previous 120-day window to about 60 days, Johnson said.
Students alleging sexual misconduct on the part of FAS faculty or staff members may still file their complaints—formal or informal—with the ODR. In turn, the ODR will refer the case to the OFA.
—Staff writer Dev A. Patel can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @dev_a_patel.
—Staff writer Steven R. Watros can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SteveWatros.
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