Carleton: Write an Appeals Procedure for Title IX Complaints Involving Staff/Faculty
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Content Warning: Sexual Violence
(In order to make this petition most impactful, when you sign, please put in parentheses next to your first name whether you are a Carleton student, parent of a student, alum, faculty/staff member, or other).
My name is Ryan Gorey, and I’m currently a senior at Carleton College. I am also a survivor of sexual assault. I’ve chosen to come forward with my experiences because I think they demonstrate that Carleton’s current policies and procedures regarding sexual violence are underserving members of the Carleton community.
In my first term at Carleton, I entered into a short relationship with a fellow classmate. After several consensual sexual encounters with him, I realized that I did not feel comfortable with sex at that point in my life. I didn’t know how to tell him, so I decided I would just tell him I didn’t want to have sex the next time he asked me for consent.
I never got that opportunity. I remember sitting in his room, chatting about our classes when he suddenly announced he was texting his roommates to give him the room for an hour. He locked the door to his room, climbed on top of me, and started making out with my neck and touching my body while I lay there silently. I didn’t have the courage to tell him to stop on my own. I thought that if I just lay there, without engaging at all, that he would get the message and stop, or ask me what was wrong. That didn’t happen.
Instead, he made out with my motionless body for five to ten minutes, his body pinning mine to his bed. After being pinned and felt up by my rapist for five to ten minutes, I eventually caved in to make the assault end. I was quiet and visibly uncomfortable the whole time.
He would rape me several more times over the next few weeks, touching me repeatedly and persistently in places I explicitly asked him not to. He once pressured me into performing oral sex on him - again, without consent.
At the time, I didn’t have the language to describe these experiences. I blamed myself for not saying anything, and decided it must have been my fault. It wasn’t until my junior spring that I began to understand that my rapist took my silence as a yes, and coerced me into sexual activity. I confronted him in writing, and received a written admission in response, saying that he took responsibility for his actions and was sorry for the harm that he caused. My rapist also told me that he was graduating after winter term and would no longer be on campus.
During my senior spring, I learned that my rapist was still on campus. He had accepted a job working on campus from the beginning of spring term through the end of the summer and hadn’t bothered to tell me about it. I decided I was finally ready to report him to the college and bring an official complaint.
I filed a complaint on the grounds of sexual assault, because Carleton’s policy specifically states that silence or non-communication should never be interpreted as effective consent, and that consent is not effective when coercion is used.
Although my rapist sexually assaulted me while we were both students, Carleton College applied the procedures for sexual misconduct between a student and staff/faculty member because of his current employment status. This meant that my case wouldn’t be presented in person before a panel with the Community Board on Sexual Misconduct. Instead, my case was presented by the Title IX Investigator before a one-person adjudicator – in my case, that adjudicator was the Treasurer of Carleton College (Fred Rogers).
Fred Rogers receives one annual training per year to adjudicate these cases, and has only been trained three times.
Although I had the written admission from my rapist and used records of text messages to disprove significant factual claims my rapist made, Fred Rogers found him not in violation of Carleton’s policies against sexual misconduct. In his decision, Fred Rogers only noted three things – neither of us were incapacitated, we had texted each other politely, and we ended the relationship at my request. He refused to offer me any more rationale as to how he reached his decision.
I moved to appeal the finding because I believe Carleton College made a significant procedural error in hearing my complaint under the student to staff/faculty policies. Because I was raped while my rapist and I were both students, I wanted the case to be heard under the student to student procedures so I could personally represent my case to a panel that included a current student.
When I asked to appeal, I learned that Carleton College has no appeals policy or process for the student and staff/faculty procedures. I personally asked the Vice President and Dean of Students for the right to appeal, and was refused that opportunity.
That means that if new evidence is discovered, Carleton College will not consider it. That means if Carleton College makes a significant procedural error in the execution of the complaint process, Carleton College will not consider it. That means if disproportionately minor sanctions are served to a respondent, Carleton College will not consider it.
Under the current procedures, you have exactly one chance for everything to go exactly correct, while your case is presented to a single adjudicator.
I am asking for your support in calling on Carleton College to write and implement an appeals process for their student to staff/faculty procedures. It's too late to change the outcome of my own case, but members of the community who need to use these processes in the future should have the right to be thoroughly heard in the complaint process, and an appeals process is an absolutely vital step in reaching that goal. Additionally, an appeals process has been recommended by the 2014 Dear Colleague letter, which is considered to be a guiding document for best practices in developing college complaint processes.*
I will deliver this petition to the Title IX Team and the Dean of Students at Carleton on June 5th. Please circulate this petition among any current students and alumni that are willing and able to engage in these issues, and thank you for your time.
Class of 2017
*The letter to which I am referring may be found at the following link: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/qa-201404-title-ix.pdf
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