Let students record gender-based misconduct proceedings
To the Columbia University Administration:
We were disappointed to learn that the recent updates to the guidelines and requirements for Gender-Based Misconduct Policy now strictly forbid students involved in the gender-based misconduct process, as well as their advisors, to record any investigation, hearing or appeal. This decision continues to threaten the integrity and effectiveness of investigations and fails to provide survivors access to evidence when administrators behave inappropriately, are incompetent or take incomplete notes.
Moreover, this policy is in conflict with state and federal law, which affords students access to recordings of gender-based misconduct proceedings. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights’ April 2011 Dear Colleague Letter: Sexual Violence, “[s]chools must maintain documentation of all proceedings, which may include written findings of facts, transcripts, or audio recordings.” By forbidding students and their advisors from recording during investigation, hearing, or appeal proceedings, this policy goes against the spirit of the federal government’s mandate of accurate record-keeping and transparency.
Similarly, under New York’s campus anti-sexual violence bill, “Enough is Enough,” institutions must ensure that students are afforded the right to a “full and fair record” of such proceedings, which “may include a transcript, recording or other appropriate record.” In light of Columbia Title IX investigators’ history of incomplete and inaccurate note-taking and intimidating interrogation tactics, this prohibition leaves students without an objective means of record-keeping to hold the university accountable for its practices and outcomes. This policy also discriminates against students with disabilities, who require note-taking assistance in the form of audio recordings.
By making participation in gender-based misconduct proceedings contingent upon signing away these rights, Columbia creates yet another barrier to eradicating sexual and dating violence on its campus. Students who refuse to comply with these guidelines and make the choice of recording in order to hold administrators accountable will now fear disciplinary action; likewise, similar infractions committed by advisors will result in the advisor being prohibited from future meetings.
In addition, the new update specifies that during all meetings, advisors are forbidden to actively emotionally support and assist the student; failure to comply would also lead to being prohibited from attending future meetings. Once again, it is evident that the Columbia University administration is more concerned with protecting its image and reputation than protecting the rights and well-being of survivors.
To ensure that survivors receive the support they deserve, we demand that Columbia repeal these policy updates immediately.
Endorsed by: No Red Tape Columbia, UAW Local 2110, UAW Local 2110-Barnard Contingent Faculty, UAW Local 2110-Graduate Workers of Columbia, Black Law Students Association, Columbia Divest for Climate Justice, Columbia Queer Alliance, Empowering Women of Color, Students for Justice in Palestine, International Socialist Organization, Latino/Latina Law Students Association, Take Back the Night, OutLaws, Mobilized African Diaspora, Divest Barnard, Columbia If/When/How, HeForShe, End Rape on Campus, Our Harvard Can Do Better, Silence is Violence, and Sun Devils Against Assault.
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