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Support SASV Demands

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This institution has made clear time and time again that it values limiting liability and increasing profit over the genuine well-being and safety of its students. Those who commit sexual assault and rape present an immediate threat to the entire campus, but Rhodes treats sexual violence as a mere policy infraction rather than the crime that it is. For example, Campus Safety and the Student Affairs Office still refuse to use the Rhodes Text Alert system to inform all campus community members of reported assaults; even when multiple assaults occur back-to-back.

Moreover, despite last year’s widely popular petition to expel rapists, administrators – especially the Dean of Students and the Title IX Director and Deputy Director – continue to dodge and instead offer empty quick-fixes such as the proposed change to the Sexual Misconduct Policy to "consider expulsion first" when students have been found in violation of rape. Such a change will have no bearing on whether students in violation will be any more or less likely to face expulsion. We demand zero tolerance for rapists.

Furthermore, there is no established and formal avenue through which students, faculty, and/or staff can lodge grievances against administrative wrongdoing or even grievances against student-run judicial bodies and have those grievances investigated and acted upon by an independent body. Moreover, there currently exists no centralized entity which can document and analyze trends in claims of discrimination, making structural reform difficult if not impossible.

Therefore, the students of SASV demand the following from the Dean of Students, Title IX Director, and Deputy Title IX Director:

  1. That “nonconsensual penetration” as defined by the Rhodes College Sex/Gender Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Policy be included in the institution’s definition of rape, in accordance with the FBI’s current language (Appendix A);
  2. that any student found in violation of rape per the above definition be expelled from the college and that rape as the reason for said expulsion be documented in the assailants’ academic record;
  3. that simultaneous to the campus-wide email, a text alert be sent to all students, faculty, and staff alerting them of reported sexual misconduct;
  4. that Resident Assistants and Peer Advocates no longer be mandatory reporters for sexual misconduct;
  5. and that the institution create a “safe space” located in Evergreen for students to meet with faculty wherein faculty members’ obligation of mandatory reporting for sexual misconduct is suspended.

Furthermore, we demand the following of the Board of Trustees:

  1. that the institution charter a Campus Advocacy Center, the staff of which will be hired and fired by a committee of students, faculty, and staff (excluding any members of the administration), given committed space on campus, with the mission, values, and duties outlined in Appendix B;

Lastly, we demand:

  1. That items 1-4 be instituted no later than August 1st, 2016;
  2. and that a Director for the Campus Advocacy Center be hired no later than January 1, 2017.

An official response to these demands should be issued no later than May 1st, 2016.

Appendix A:

Current Language in Rhodes College Sex/Gender Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Policy:

Non-Consensual Sexual Penetration: "Sexual penetration" is defined under Tennessee law as sexual intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, anal intercourse, or any other intrusion, however slight, by any part of a person's body or by any object into the genital or anal openings of any other person's body.  Such contact is deemed non-consensual if done without the other person's affirmative consent (see definition above).

Rape:  is defined under Tennessee law as the unlawful Sexual Penetration of a person accompanied by any of the following circumstances:

Force or coercion is used to accomplish the act;
The act is accomplished without the other person's consent and the perpetrator knows or has reason to know at the time of the penetration that the person did not consent;
The perpetrator knows or has reason to know that the person is mentally or physically incapacitated; or
The act is accomplished by fraud.

FBI’s Current Definition of Rape

“In 2013, the FBI UCR (Uniform Crime Reporting) Program initiated collection of rape data under a revised definition within the Summary Reporting System. Previously, offense data for forcible rape was collected under the legacy UCR definition:  the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will. Beginning with the 2013 data year, the term “forcible” was removed from the offense title, and the definition was changed. The revised UCR definition of rape is:  Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim. Attempts or assaults to commit rape are also included.”

Appendix B: Campus Advocacy Center Proposal

The Campus Advocacy Center
The Campus Advocacy Center is accessible to all students, faculty, and staff (hereafter referred to as “visitors” and/or “complainants”) and serves to assist visitors in pursuing and resolving disputes of social injustice. It operates outside of administrative channels and is staffed by full-time employees who are hired and fired by a committee of students, faculty, and non-administrative staff (who are themselves appointed by faculty).

Mission Statement for Advocacy Center
The Advocacy Center is by no means a “neutral” entity; the purpose of the Advocacy Center is to empower and advocate for students, faculty, and staff in order to create a more socially just campus. As such, the Advocacy Center foregrounds the needs of marginalized students by ensuring equitable outcomes for all students, faculty, and staff and pursuing a campus climate of radical inclusivity.

Guiding Values:
Independence

  • The Advocacy Center functions outside existing administrative structures and reports directly to a committee of students, faculty, and staff (who themselves are appointed by the faculty) only for administrative and budgetary purposes. Furthermore, its charter shall be drafted by the inaugural committee mentioned above.
  • The Advocacy Center will have access to all institutional officials and records as needed to carry out the functions of the office.
  • Staff members will take all steps to avoid conflicts of interest, whether actual or perceived.

Confidentiality

  • Strict confidentiality is essential to the Advocacy Center’s functionality and helps create a safe place for visitors to voice concerns, evaluate issues, and identify options.
  • The Advocacy Center will not disclose the identity of visitors to the office or the content of conversations unless given permission to do so.
  • If a visitor has given permission to do so, the Advocacy Center may disclose information to other offices or individuals whose help is necessary to explore or resolve a problem.
  • Staff members of the Advocacy Center will not be Mandatory Reporters of Sexual Misconduct.
  • The institution will make every effort to protect the confidentiality of the Advocacy Center. The institution will not ask the Advocacy Center to testify on the university’s behalf in internal or external proceedings, and it will take appropriate steps to protect the Center’s from subpoena by others.

Social Justice

  • The Advocacy Center is not a “neutral” entity; its purpose is explicitly to pursue social justice on campus. By social justice, we mean the elimination of discrimination and oppression based on race, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, ability, color, age, and/or national origin. As such, in order to pursue social justice, the Advocacy Center centers the voices and addresses the needs of marginalized students, faculty, and staff.
  • The Advocacy Center will work to mitigate and/or eliminate causes of structural violence against marginalized students, faculty, and staff. It will achieve this both through working privately with visitors to resolve complaints of discrimination and publicly through engagement with the broader campus community through policy development, programming, and advocacy.

Duties:

  1. Confidentially intaking visitors’ grievances and/or claims of discrimination, regardless of whether visitors have utilized pre-existing institutional channels (e.g. H.R.);
  2. Assisting visitors in pursuing disputes, whether that be through reporting violations of the Social Misconduct Policy, the Discrimination and Harassment Policy, the Sex/Gender Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Policy, and all other relevant campus policies, and/or through mediation between relevant parties;
  3. Assisting visitors in pursuing disputes when pre-established institutional policies and procedures do not exist and/or suffice;
  4. Investigating grievances and claims of discrimination, be they individual or structural;
  5. Developing and advocating for solutions to structural inequity and violence, through policy, procedural, structural, and/or informal changes.

 

 



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