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The Faculty voted yesterday to revamp the way the College will handle sexual assault on campus next year.
Faculty members voted to approve the creation of a new office for sexual assault prevention and the rewording of the Handbook for Students section requiring “sufficient corroborating evidence” before the Ad Board investigates a peer dispute case.
The vote is a rubber stamp of the Leaning Committee’s April report on the College’s sexual assault policy, which recommends the creation of the office as well as an expanded preventative education program.
Professor of International Health Jennifer Leaning ’68 said the establishment of the office will provide the tools that the College needs to improve the way it handles sexual assault.
“[Dean of Undergraduate Education Benedict H. Gross ’71 has] put in place a mechanism that will allow us to do the work that we suggested needed to be done,” she said after the meeting. “He’s committed to an office with adequate funding.”
As part of the College’s expanded sexual assault education program, Gross said that time will be specifically allotted during future Freshman Weeks for the discussion of sexual assault and that Ad Board members will undergo training in the adjudication of assault-related disputes before the fall.
Gross announced the appointment of Leaning as chair of the advisory committee of a new College office to centralize resources and support surrounding the issue of sexual assault on campus.
Gross also emphasized that the revised wording of the College’s Administrative Board procedure for peer disputes would “lead to an investigation of each case that is brought forward.”
Some students protested the Faculty’s change of the peer dispute policy’s wording last spring, which required “sufficient corroborating evidence” before the Ad Board would initiate an investigation into the student’s complaint.
Sarah B. Levit-Shore ’04, a member of the Coalition Against Sexual Violence (CASV) and the Leaning Committee, said the Faculty’s approval of the new language and the Leaning recommendations proves the issue of sexual assault will not be forgotten by the administration in the near future.
“This represents a significant step forward for the University and the community,” Levit-Shore said. “I think it’s great that the faculty has taken responsibility, that the deans and the Faculty together have taken responsibility.”
The Faculty asked that Gross report back next spring on what progress the College has made in implementing the recommendations.
As part of the approved recommendations, the College will hire someone to investigate all peer dispute cases for the Ad Board.
Leaning said this “Single Fact Finder” will be trained and skilled in investigative techniques, as well as familiar with the Harvard community.
Gross said he hopes to appoint the fact finder within a few weeks.
Leaning added that spirits are high among the committee members and all who support its actions.
“The mood is pretty solid,” she said. “The students are with us. The fact that the Ad Board language is changing is further evidence of [the Faculty’s] support.”
Also at yesterday’s meeting, Dubois Professor of the Humanities Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr. moved that the name of the department of Afro-American studies be changed to the “department of African and African American Studies.”
Gates said that the name change comes in response to a growing interest at the College in Africa and its culture, language and history.
Formally creating a track in African studies, he said, “would nurture and provide a stable, programmatic base” for students interested in pursuing studies of Africa.
Kirby also announced that the new chair of the economics department will be Professor of Economics Alberto F. Alesina and read the names of the professors who are to be honored with the title of Harvard College Professor next year.
The new Harvard College professors are Professor of Latin Kathleen M. Coleman, Professor of History James Kloppenberg, Fairbank Professor of Chinese Society James L. Watson and outgoing Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68.
Kirby also announced six new members of next year’s Faculty Council: Cabot Professor of Social Ethics Mahzarin Banaji, Director of the Harvard Foundation S. Allen Counter, Gurney Professor of English Literature James Engell, Associate Professor of History Lisa M. McGirr, Welch Professor of Computer Science Stuart M. Shieber and Professor of Greek and Latin Richard F. Thomas.
—Staff writer Laura L. Krug can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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