Brown University has announced a new unified policy on issues of sexual violence, harassment and misconduct and new procedures for filing, investigating, and resolving complaints.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — In keeping with recommendations from a joint faculty-student-staff task force, Brown is implementing a new unified policy that brings greater cohesiveness to the University’s approach to resolving complaints of sexual violence and harassment. The University also is implementing new annual training for all members of the campus community.

In a letter emailed this afternoon to the campus, Amanda Walsh, Brown’s Title IX program officer, shared how a new unified policy that applies to all members of the campus community and other new initiatives will “develop a framework for transforming Brown’s approach to issues of sexual and gender-based violence and harassment.”

“The policy brings clarity to issues of sexual misconduct,” Walsh said. “It delineates prohibited conduct, defines relevant terms, and provides consistent expectations that can be easily understood and relied on confidently by the entire community.”

The new policy is being implemented based on two actions taken by the Advisory and Executive Committee (A&E) of the Brown Corporation this week:

  • The A&E approved the new “University Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment, Sexual Violence, Relationship and Interpersonal Violence and Stalking Policy.” The new policy is available on the Title IX website.
  • The A&E approved a new investigator model and complaint process to initiate action and ensure resolution of alleged policy violations by students. A key provision of the policy is its provision for trained investigators who will interview complainants, respondents, and witnesses, gather evidence, and prepare a report for a Title IX Council, which will resolve complaints. A description of the complaint process is also available on the Title IX website.

Currently the new complaint process applies to the receipt, investigation, and informal and formal resolution of complaints of conduct violations by students. Processes for faculty and staff will be developed during the fall semester, aligning with existing policies and procedures for employment and faculty governance.

The new unified policy and student procedures grew out of a comprehensive study conducted by the University’s Sexual Assault Task Force, given its charge by President Christina Paxson in May 2014. Key recommendations involved the unified policies, the investigator model for complaints, and creation of an advisory council to monitor the campus’ progress in building strong procedures to address issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

“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,” Paxson said in May 2015 when accepting the recommendations of the Final Report of the Sexual Assault Task Force.

A suite of annual training in the new policies and procedures — required for all members of the campus community — has begun and will continue through the semester:

  • Entering first-year students were required to complete an online training model this summer.
  • An online training module will be available to other classes during the new academic year, including graduate and medical students.
  • On Oct. 1. 2015, online training will be rolled out to faculty and staff about their roles in preventing and responding to sexual violence, including guidance for witnesses and bystanders.
  • Additional information and in-person training will be included in Residential Peer Leader training for students, Staff Development Day, and New Faculty Orientation.

Walsh’s own hiring in the spring was part of the University’s effort to revise and strengthen its policies and procedures. Walsh was charged with establishing the Title IX Office as a central place for education and training and as the administrative unit that will hear and resolve all complaints of sexual violence, harassment, or other violations of the new policy.

That work, Walsh said, is already well underway. The Title IX Office has begun its work and assumed its new role in the University. A Title IX Oversight and Advisory Board — three faculty, three staff, three undergraduates, two graduate students and a medical student — will meet twice a year to review programs, progress and statistics about sexual violence. It is charged with conducting a formal review of the University’s progress every three years — the first one taking place in spring 2016 — and will meet annually with the president to discuss the committee’s work.

“I am confident that with the continued support of President Paxson and the campus community, we will achieve a safe and welcoming environment for the entire Brown community,” Walsh said.