By Stephen Gruber-Miller and Eliza-Eve Leas, grubermi@grinnell.edu & leaseliz@grinnell.edu

This week, Interim Title IX Director Angela Voos and SGA President Colleen Osborne ’13 held the first meeting for a student advisory committee to discuss sexual misconduct on Wednesday. The following evening, faculty, staff and students met with consultants Gina Gomez and Leslie Smith, who are advising on a variety of changes to the College’s sexual assault prevention policies.

 

Photograph by John Brady.

At their campus-wide meeting on Wednesday, the advisory committee sought student input regarding specific concerns and ideas for change. Some students described potentially immediate improvements to how Harris parties conclude and safer ways for inebriated students to get home.

Voos appreciated the practical solutions recommended by students and the broad student input offered at the meeting.

“I am so grateful to the students who are willing to help us figure out how best to make the campus safer,” Voos wrote in an email.
Much of the discussion on Wednesday focused on the connection between alcohol use and sexual misconduct.

“The vast majority of sexual misconduct cases involve substance abuse,” Voos wrote. Some students suggested that more attention should be paid to this issue, while others responded that ending alcohol abuse won’t completely stop sexual harassment. For those who wish to get involved, the committee’s next meeting will be held on Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in ARH 302. Meetings are open to all of campus.

Consultants Gomez and Smith, from the firm Ballard Spahr, returned to campus on Thursday to discuss their recommendations for new policies and practices regarding education, prevention and responses to sexual misconduct. During a Town Hall Thursday evening, Gomez and Smith focused on the need to create a central policy that can encompass all cases of sexual misconduct—which college administrators are currently crafting—as well as a central site where information is easily available to anyone with questions about sexual harassment policies.

Gomez and Smith praised the work Voos has done to create such a policy and said that Grinnell needs to create a campus environment where people feel comfortable coming forward with cases of sexual misconduct without feeling stigmatized for it. Gomez and Smith also described methods being considered and implemented on other college campuses, including education programs and easy-to-access sexual respect websites.

However, turnout for the Town Hall was meager; six students were in attendance, but three were SGA cabinet and two were representing the S&B. While the consultants asked participants about the reasons for low attendance, they also noted how invaluable student input has been as they have created their policy recommendations and commended Grinnell for transparency. They will continue to work with the College throughout the policy change and prevention implementation process.

Those with questions or concerns regarding sexual misconduct can contact Title IX Interim Director Angela Voos at [voos] or at 641-269-3024.

Students who wish to speak to a confidential source, specifically a person who is not required to contact the Title IX coordinator in the case of sexual misconduct, can contact SHACS, a chaplain at the CRSSJ, or speak with a Peer Advocate by calling security at 641-269-4600 and requesting an advocate.