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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Social Justice Committee unites to fight sexual harassment

Published: October 5, 2012
Section: News, Top Stories

The Student Union, which acts as a liaison between students and their administration, says that fighting sexual harassment is the main priority of the Social Justice Committee this year.

“I would love the students to maintain great communication with whoever becomes the university investigator, called the Special Examiner,” Park said.

This year in Director of Student Rights and Community Standards Dean Gendron’s email about students’ Rights and Responsibilities, he outlined new changes for adjudicating cases of sexual assault.

The new addition to Rights and Responsibilities, titled “Special Examiner’s Process,” and listed under section 22.6, applies to one or more violations of Section 3, which deals with sexual responsibility, or Section 7, which deals with equal opportunity, non-discrimination and harassment.

Under the new process, unlike other violations of Rights and Responsibilities that appear before the student conduct board, the special examiner will investigate sexual assault and harassment cases and the dean of student life will render the final decision for the outcome of the case.

Park acknowledges that sexual harassment is a sensitive topic to discuss, so Brandeis is trying to make open discussion easier through its many peer and professional counseling resources on campus.

“We are trying harder to reach out to students through our CAs, CDCs, OLs, STAR, QRC, SSIS, FMLA, the Psychological Counseling Center in Mailman, and the Brandeis Counseling and Rape Crisis Hotline (consisting of anonymous students trained in counseling regarding various topics, including rape and sexual harassment over the phone).”

Last month, STAR, QRC, and SSIS co-sponsored an event called Campus Cares to reach out to students in Massell, North, Ziv and Ridgewood to “let the students know that these groups are here for them,” she said.

“While we will do our best to reach out to students and we will never cease to empower the victims to come forward, we also have to respect that in the end, it is still the victim’s choice whether to come forward or not for their reason,” Park said.

“By fostering a warm, caring atmosphere with increased awareness about sexual harassment, I hope that victims feel it is easier to talk to the resources available on campus and off campus. I hope that through transparent communication and improved relationships between faculty and students, we encourage and empower the community to fight against sexual harassment together,” she added.

Increased outreach efforts began last year with the Hate Crime and Discrimination Forum in April, organized by the Student Union. Park says that this event was important because it revealed gaps in the counseling system.

“Fighting sexual harassment is a big goal for the Senate Social Justice Committee because many students have expressed confusion in regards to the conduct process, should one experience sexual harassment in any way,” Park said. “Since the forum last year, some have anonymously asserted that they would not know who to turn to if something happened, especially when parties involved are not just limited to students.”

“I think that the school recognized that sexual harassment policy needs to be better revised and clarified, and that I applaud that there is a next course of action planned to fight sexual harassment in all forms,” Park added.