May 18, 2015
Dear Brown Community Members,
On April 7, I shared with the Brown community the thoughtful and thorough final report of the Sexual Assault Task Force, which put forth recommendations for confronting issues of sexual and gender-based violence and harassment on our campus.
The final report built on the Task Force’s Interim Report of December 2014. The recommendations of both reports, taken together, call for Brown to take a bold approach to making significant and lasting progress in preventing sexual assault and providing fair resolutions to allegations of sexual misconduct. I previously accepted the recommendations from the Interim Report, and I am writing to accept the recommendations contained in the executive summary of the Final Report.
There are, within the recommendations and the breadth of the full report, many details that need to be carefully considered and resolved prior to implementation. The precise nature of the implementation will require consultation with a number of constituencies within the University community. This work has already begun under the leadership of the University’s recently appointed Title IX program officer, Amanda Walsh, in close collaboration with colleagues across the campus.
The Task Force proposes two fundamental changes to the University’s approach to sexual assault and gender-based harassment and sexual violence: the adoption of a single policy that applies to all members of the University community, and an integrated approach to receiving and addressing complaints within a new Title IX program office. I agree with the Task Force’s assessment that these changes will best position Brown to comply with the increasingly complex requirements of Title IX and provide the specialized training and education that underpins the execution of clear and transparent policies and practices.
The Task Force made a number of other recommendations, including: mandatory education, awareness and training programs for all community members on an annual basis; clear and easily accessible information needed for complainants, respondents, friends and advisers; standard protocols for investigations, including administration of medical exams; annual tracking and public reporting of University-wide data at a more detailed level than is our current practice; and a continued overall emphasis on the need for the University to facilitate and sustain positive culture change with regard to sexual and gender-based violence and harassment.
These findings and recommendations have been thoroughly discussed over the course of the year in numerous faculty, staff and student meetings. This widespread campus engagement has been inspiring and extremely beneficial to the Task Force, as well as to me and my colleagues in the University’s senior leadership who now have the responsibility of implementing the recommendations.
A critical next step is a careful review of the Task Force’s proposed policy and process to ensure that Brown is fully compliant with all relevant federal requirements and guidance. This review is being led by the new Title IX Office. Upon its completion, the Brown community will receive further information about the implementation of the policy and process for the receipt, investigation, and informal and formal resolution of complaints of conduct that violates the policy.
Amanda Walsh began her new Title IX program officer duties at Brown last month and is actively leading efforts to implement the recommendations and prepare policy, process and training materials for the coming academic year. As recommended by the Task Force, she will also represent Brown on the statewide task force on adult sexual assault currently being formed under the leadership of the Day One agency in Rhode Island that is dedicated to reducing sexual violence.
We will need the support and engagement of the entire University community to achieve the goal articulated so clearly by the Sexual Assault Task Force of “establishing — and maintaining — a campus culture in which all members are equally valued, respected and safe.” I am fully committed to this goal, and I want to thank all faculty, students and staff for your contributions to the work ahead.
Christina H. Paxson