On Feb. 17, Vice President & Dean of Students Bruce Smith sent a statement to the student body regarding the College’s dedication to “growing a culture of consent, supporting survivors, and combating sexual misconduct” and announced new plans for Title IX support on campus.
The email included a summary of the College’s goal of “providing an educational and workplace environment that is free from sexual misconduct.” The Whittier College Sexual Misconduct Policy outlines the procedures of addressing sexual assault, harassment, etc. allegations, which the College adheres to in order to achieve their aforementioned goal.
This Policy applies to all members of the Whittier College community: faculty, staff, and students. According to the email, any allegations from members of the community “are acted upon promptly by the College.” An online reporting form is available for anyone who wishes to report an act of sexual misconduct. This can be done so anonymously.
Any of the following members of Whittier College staff can also be contacted for reports of sexual misconduct:
Title IX Coordinator, Lafayette Baker
Dean of Students, Bruce Smith
Additional information about reporting can be found here.
Following the submission of a report, WC’s Title IX Coordinator will review the allegation, and the College will follow up with investigative and adjudicative processes. This includes a formal grievance process and, if appropriate, an informal resolution.
The College is also “working to develop comprehensive prevention and outreach programs,” which will include education and awareness presentations about the College’s sexual misconduct policies and procedures to all members of the community, empowerment programming, awareness-raising campaigns, bystander intervention, and risk reduction programs. “These programs will result in a more equitable community, a stronger consent culture, and the removal of barriers to reporting sexual misconduct,” the email read.
The College also has plans to support survivors and expand the consent culture on campus. The Title IX office will hire a group of peer educators, who will complete extensive training that will prepare them to work with the entire campus, in the Fall of 2021. The Gender Equity Center will receive funding to support a student coordinator position, research opportunities with WC’s Gender Studies Program, and different workshops and training programs for the WC community. The training for employees involved in the Title IX process will also be strengthened; for example, through the College’s partnership with the Association of Title IX Administrators.
These plans were sent out after the activist group The Voices of Whittier College Instagram page (@voicesofwc) has brought awareness to the individual stories and cultural climate of sexual misconduct in the College community. In order to protect the safety and privacy of survivors who wish to share their stories, The Voices of WC created an anonymous submission form, which can be found through the link in the Instagram account’s bio.
“We believe the Title IX coordinator position is too important to be taken on by someone who already has a full-time job at the school and cannot devote the proper time to survivors and prevention work,” said the Voices of Whittier College, to the Quaker Campus. While the Dean’s email addresses some of the concerns that the activist group has brought attention to, the school has yet to recognize the account directly.
The email concludes, “All of these efforts are a part of Whittier College’s commitment to providing an educational environment and workplace that is free from Sexual Misconduct. We will continue the development of a Title IX team and educational program dedicated to supporting survivors, growing a culture of consent on campus, and building awareness of and strategies to overcome gender violence of all kinds at Whittier College.”
Feature image: Emerson Little / Quaker Campus (Taken pre-pandemic)