In a statement to the Crimson, Quinn D. Hatoff ’15 and Eva Stojchevska ’15, co-chairs of the UC’s sexual assault policy task force that was formed Monday, wrote that “President Faust’s announcement of yet another task force should be met with cautious optimism.”
Hatoff and Stojchevska, neither of whom was contacted about the formation of a University task force, wrote that they are “concerned that some very relevant student leaders working on this issue are left out of the conversation.”
UC President Gus A. Mayopoulos '15 noted similar concerns, confirming that the UC was not contacted by the University about the task force. He said that he has been frustrated by the extent to which administrators have sought student input in the past.
“It is outrageously late in the game to start including student input on these policies. Obviously better late than never...but honestly I don't understand what the logic was in not including students on the University-wide sexual assault policy a few years ago,” Mayopoulos said.
Demetrio D. Anaya ’15, one of two undergraduate members of the task force, spoke more optimistically about its creation. Anaya, the current president of Consent, Assault Awareness, and Relationship Educators, said that he received an email from Faust earlier this week asking if he would be interested in joining the task force.
“I feel that it’s very important for the University to make sure that all their policies are up to date, and I am optimistic that this task force will be able to make improvements in the Harvard community,” Anaya said.
Emily M. Fox-Penner '17, an organizer for Our Harvard Can Do Better, a student advocacy group that filed a complaint with the Department of Education March 28 alleging that Harvard’s policy violates Title IX, expressed reservations about the announcement.
“Our concern is just that it will be just yet another cosmetic way to look like policy is being under review without really giving students the voice that they deserve to debate the policy,” Fox-Penner said.
In January, President Obama signed a similar memorandum creating a task force of senior administrations to coordinate federal enforcement efforts to prevent and police sexual assaults on college campuses. The task force, which includes the U.S. Attorney General and the secretaries of the Education, Health and Human Services, and Interior Departments, will submit their recommendations for best practices for colleges to prevent or respond to assaults and to check that they are complying with existing legal obligations at the end of the month.
—Staff writers Amna H. Hashmi and Madeline R. Conway contributed to the reporting of this story.
—Staff writer Noah J. Delwiche can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ndelwiche.
—Staff writer Christine Y. Cahill can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @cycahill16.