In April 2016, President Sean Decatur and the Kenyon College Board of Trustees called for an external review of the College's Title IX policies, procedures and activities from the 2015-16 academic year. Below is the executive summary of the report produced from that review.
The full report is now available as well as a letter from President Sean Decatur and Brackett Denniston, chair of the Kenyon College Board of Trustees. Questions and comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summary of Report of External Review
Submitted by the co-chairs of the Title IX Steering Committee, Ruth Fisher P'17, trustee, and Theodore O. Mason P'10, associate provost for diversity, equity & inclusion.
In April 2016, President Sean Decatur and the Board of Trustees of Kenyon College directed that the College undertake an external review of the College’s Title IX and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Policy (the “Policy”) which had been adopted as of July 1, 2015, and of the College’s practices under the Policy during the academic year ended June 30, 2016. A respected professional with experience in Title IX/VAWA matters, Rebecca Leitman Veidlinger, was engaged to conduct the review and a committee (the “Committee”) was appointed to oversee the review and any resulting recommendations.
Summary of Findings
Veidlinger conducted an extensive review of the Title IX and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Policy, related practices, and of each report made under the Policy. She gathered input from numerous students, faculty, employees and others in the Kenyon community via in-person meetings, anonymous on-line surveys, emails and group round-table discussions. Veidlinger noted that the Kenyon community strongly supported the review and that she “was struck … by the deep commitment each [participant] expressed to the particular role they fill at Kenyon, to the College as a whole, and most importantly, to the well-being and success of the students.” Overall, while noting there is still work to be done, the Report found:
- The Policy itself was consistent with current law and largely incorporates current best practices.
- Information about the Policy and how to report concerns of sexual misconduct was clear and widely known. Investigations, conducted through a two-investigator model, were thorough and, except for the length of investigations, complied with the Policy guidelines. Few, if any, addressable systemic issues stood out as reasons for delay.
- The College’s Office for Civil Rights/Title IX functions effectively and has the independence, authority and support required to administer the Policy and conduct appropriate investigations.
While noting the strengths of the College’s Policy and related practices, Veidlinger offered several suggestions for enhancements and modifications to the College’s Title IX/VAWA systems. Many of Veidlinger’s suggestions have already been or are in the process of being implemented. The suggestions generally fall into one of the following three areas:
- Changes to the language of the Policy itself, to make certain language clearer, including to address concerns about the Policy’s application to the LGBTQ+ community and to strengthen the language concerning retaliation.
- The need to more quickly complete investigations, with specific recommendations on facilitating evidence collection during initial assessments and improved documentation and record-keeping of investigations.
- Educating students on the availability of advisers for both respondents and complainants, enhancing the support resources available to students involved in investigations, and providing additional education and training to student leaders (such as Sexual Misconduct Advisers) who are resources to their peers.
We thank each of the Committee members for their meaningful and thoughtful input during the review process, and thank Rebecca Leitman Veidlinger for her exhaustive work and care in effecting this review. We close by emphasizing that the Title IX/VAWA area is one which deserves — and at Kenyon is getting — constant and sustained review and adjustment. The recommendations in the Report should be understood as part of that continuum, not the end of the line. Most importantly, however, it is apparent to the Committee that the most critical work we can do as a community is to encourage each individual to take personal responsibility for making the campus a safer environment for all, and for ensuring that when issues arise, all of the persons involved are treated fairly and with sensitivity.
Title IX Steering Committee Members:
Meredith Harper Bonham, Vice President for Student Affairs and Class of 1992
Marshall Chapin, Trustee and Class of 1994
Olivia Cucinotta, Class of 2018
Ruth Fisher, Trustee and Parent Class of 2017
Judy Holdener, Professor of Mathematics & Statistics
Theodore O. Mason, Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Parent Class of 2010
Jesse Matz, William P. Rice Professor of English and Literature
Susan Morse, President’s Chief of Staff
Submitted November 17, 2016.