Listen to this: We Do Want Changes to Dickinson’s Title IX Process

Rose McAvoy '20, Guest Columnist

Brenda Bretz’s article “We do listen. We do make changes. We welcome your input”, was disappointing. You may be listening, you made some changes, but you’ve ignored the most critical problem. Dickinson College’s Title IX process is broken.

Your apology for delays in my case may be sincere, but federal guidelines at the time of my case directed that a “typical investigation” should take 60 days. Dickinson’s own Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Policy stated 60 days was the timeframe and delays would trigger a “notification and explanation”.

Despite repeated requests I never received a notification or explanation for the delays in my case, as the process dragged on for 209 days.

Your apology would mean more if Dickinson was currently handling Title IX cases better.  You’re not. Many current investigations are more than 100 days into the process.

You wrote there were details in my case you were “learning for the very first time”. I expect an apology for that statement.  It was offensive and clearly meant to decrease the legitimacy of my experience.

It also ignores the facts:

  1. I told members of the faculty and administration of the incident; they have verified for me in writing that they reported the incident.

In February 2019, one year ago, I sent Dickinson correspondence stating I “asked for additional time for an assignment” during the Title IX process, I was disgustingly told by my professor that I “just need[ed] to get over [the assault].” I urged Dickinson to establish training programs for faculty on how to accommodate survivors, your op-ed did not list one program that does that – correct me if I am wrong.

  1. You wrote that I should provide information about two other people sexually assaulted by my attacker while my case was in process.

To ask the survivor of a sexual assault to provide proof of assaults on other victims is an illustration of why Dickinson’s Title IX process is broken.

I will not provide any information about these sexual assaults without consent from the people attacked. However, they were easy to identify. Dickinson College could have, should have, and still can, find these people with little effort. All you have to do is remember to investigate during an investigation.

Regardless of whether you heard about the other assaults, Dickinson took no precautions to prevent my attacker – who was found guilty of sexual assault – from sexually assaulting other students. In fact, you removed the No Contact order between me and my assailant – a completely indefensible decision – making campus completely unsafe for me.

You also wrote: “Dickinson is in compliance with reporting requirements under federal law, including Title IX, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and the Clery Act.”

Can you then explain why Dickinson’s 2018 Clery Act report includes no sexual assaults in non-residential areas? My attacker was found responsible for sexually attacking me in a non-residential area during the reporting period. So, why would that not be reported?

Can you explain why I was denied access to my own disciplinary file and materials in violation of both Title IX and VAWA?

Could you also share with the community the outcome of the U.S. Department of Education and Office for Civil Rights (OCR) 2017 investigation of Dickinson for Title IX violations?

In 2011 the College also promised to install a system in the HUB that would report outcomes of disciplinary actions in the case of sexual assault. Would you please tell me where I can find that?

You claim my article contains an assumption “that no one has listened.” Dickinson listens a great deal. Your failure is not taking the actions needed to fix the broken process you are hearing about.

The education programs you list in detail in your article are excellent. I’m sure you agree, we could always do more.

All of those education programs are useless, if when a sexual assault occurs Dickinson’s investigations manage to somehow simultaneously fail to investigate enough to uncover simple facts and also drag on so long they destroy a survivor’s ability to get an education, their mental health, and their right to feel safe and protected on campus. What took so long if you weren’t uncovering any information?

Never again should a Dickinson student be found guilty of sexual assault and then receive probation.

Never again should a Dickinson student found guilty of sexual assault have their No Contact Order rescinded.

Never again should a Dickinson student be sexually assaulted because Dickinson forgot to investigate during a title IX investigation.

Never again should a survivor be denied their right to access the record of their investigation.

Never again should a student be on campus without a Blue-Light phone within their line of sight.

And Ms. Bretz never again should you bar television cameras from an open meeting. Transparency is critical to an honest dialogue, stop trying to hide what is happening.

Discover Dickinson begins February 17th.  Can we come to a commitment in writing of what immediate action Dickinson will take to fix its Title IX issues before prospective students visit the campus?