On July 12, 2014, the New York Times published an extremely disturbing article [trigger warning] about the gross misconduct on the part of the Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ handling of a sexual assault case, reflecting a broader issue that needs to be addressed. Please sign this petition by alums and current students calling on the administration to make transparent policy changes immediately!
To: President Gearan and the HWS Senior Staff:
We, both current students and alumni of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, are horrified by the New York Times article exposing the administration's mismanagement of a campus sexual assault case, reflecting a broader issue that needs to be addressed.
While we appreciate President Gearan's swift response to the situation, his justification for the current policy is simply unacceptable. Significant changes must be made to ensure the safety and well-being of all current and future students.
We call on the administration to do the following:
-Make the methods and practices involved in the handling of sexual assault cases available to the entire student body, in print and online, not just by request. These resources must include, but are not limited to, the content of trainings for those involved in the reporting process.
-Conduct a nationwide search for a new, qualified Title IX Coordinator. Many students feel that the current Title IX coordinator does not have the necessary skills to assist survivors, and that she has engaged in victim blaming and other demeaning behavior. Our community needs an advocate for survivors in the administration.
-On the HWS website, publicly provide updates on the current audit investigating the school’s approach to sexual misconduct and community standards.
-Fund and support the rape and sexual assault hotline initially proposed and organized by William Smith student Carly Petroski in collaboration with the Counseling Center and Safe Harbors.
-Restructure the mandated rape prevention and student life seminars to focus on bystander intervention. Despite the administration's insistence on its efficacy, the current seminar model is not taken seriously; we need a structure that legitimately helps to actualize change in student behavior.
-Appoint qualified individuals specifically designated to serve on the adjudication panel (Sexual Grievance Board). Despite President Gearan’s claims otherwise, the panel members listed in the New York Times article were clearly unqualified, as indicated by the inappropriate questions they asked the assault survivor, Anna. Qualified panel members would be required to have an understanding not only of legal obligations, but also be trained in an approach that emphasizes an understanding of women’s studies and social justice principles.
-In investigative proceedings, work with all parties involved to set a timeline that respects the privacy of all participants and the required period needed to process and analyze all supplementary medical examinations.
-Strongly enforce and monitor all parties’ compliance with the school’s No Contact Order to ensure the protection and privacy of the victim and all affected parties at all times; when violated, it is the responsibility and obligation of the administration to respond.
These demands have been laid out by alums and current students intimately familiar with the HWS administration, institution, and campus culture. The current state of affairs concerning sexual violence is a source of shame for the school and needs to be addressed immediately. Students and alums will only be able to restore their faith in the school’s ability to train students to lead "lives of consequence" if our students are protected from sexual violence, and criminals are brought to true justice.
Alli McCracken, William Smith '10
Allison Wilcox, William Smith ‘16
Aly McKnight, William Smith '15
Andrea Proctor, William Smith '15
Andrew Coleburn, Hobart '16
Bridget Sakowski, William Smith '14
Clover Quigley, William Smith '15
Colleen Moore, William Smith '16
Danielle Stokel, William Smith '15
Emily Saeli, William Smith '16
Emily Surprenant, William Smith '15
Emma Richardson, William Smith '17
Grace Walter, William Smith '14
Haley Dunn, William Smith, '13
Jessica Raleigh, William Smith '09
Kathryn Mendez, William Smith '16
Lucia Cardone, William Smith '16
Mary Kubinski, William Smith '17
Megan Lavin, William Smith '16
Megan Soule, William Smith '15
Ryan Mullaney, Hobart '16
Sara Winant, William Smith '15
Subin Nepal, Hobart '15
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.