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Responding to the July 31, 2018, Campus Police Call

Detail of the top of the Grecourt Gates

President Kathleen McCartney and other Smith College officials have issued statements regarding an incident on July 31, 2018, in which a report was made to Campus Police regarding a student of color in a residential area. The statements and other information are collected below.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where should members of the community go for updates? 
A: Any updates will be posted to this page as soon as they are available. As of the time of this posting, the investigation is ongoing and will hopefully be completed in the near term. 

Q: Have any student meetings been held following and in response to the July 31 incident?
A: Yes. Student Affairs, Multicultural Affairs and others have been in discussion with student groups to answer questions and hear their concerns. These meetings began on August 2. 

Q: Have any staff meetings been held following and in response to the July 31 incident?
A: Yes. Human Resources, Facilities Management, Dining Services and other departments have met to discuss the July 31 incident. 

Q: Have any lawsuits been filed in relation to the July 31 incident?
A: No.

Q: What is the nature of the ACLU’s involvement?
A: Although no lawsuits have been filed, an ACLU representative is providing counsel to the student and has been in communication with the college since late August. We welcome the input of all involved parties as we continue to move toward creating a more inclusive community.

Q: When will the results of the external investigation be released?
A: The investigation is ongoing; the attorneys leading it have not yet released any findings or an expected date to do so. 

Q: Social media posts from August 21 purport to identify the caller to Campus Police. Are the posts accurate?
A: No. Neither of the individuals named in these posts placed the call. 

Q: Who is investigating the incident?
A: Two experienced attorneys will investigate the incident: Anthony Cruthird and Kate Upatham.

Anthony Cruthird has close to 20 years of experience in the field of civil rights and education. The bulk of his experience stems from his prior role as a senior civil rights attorney and team leader with the United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), where his work centered on investigating and remedying complaints alleging discrimination on the bases of race, color, national origin, disability, sex, and age.

Kate Upatham worked for eight years as a Civil Rights Attorney with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR).  She has conducted numerous investigations including with OCR’s compliance team that proactively ensures that schools receiving Federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education, and public entities, are in compliance with the laws enforced by OCR.

Both attorneys are members of the Sanghavi Law Office.

Q: Will the outcome of the investigation be made public?
A: While privacy laws preclude making public any personnel-related outcomes of an investigation, the college will share any recommendations on policies, procedures or further community training that result.

Q: What type of training do Campus Police officers receive?
A: Campus Police officers receive training including, but not limited to:

  • Diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Implicit bias (led by the District Attorney’s Office)
  • Trauma-informed victim response
  • Violence prevention and de-escalation
  • Massachusetts State Police training plus an additional nine-week in-house field training

Q: Are college employees required to take anti-bias training?
A: All employees are responsible for understanding and complying with our anti-discrimination policies and many individuals and groups of employees have received anti-bias training through the college. We are expanding these trainings this year and making them mandatory for all staff.

Q: Does Smith outsource its security to the Northampton Police Department or any other armed police department?
A: No. Unarmed Campus Police officers respond to all on-campus calls, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Campus Police may contact the Northampton Police Department for additional support only in those instances where required—large events, major crimes, etc.

Q: What is the name of the employee who called campus police?
A: We are not releasing that information. Under college policy, any campus police records released must have references to involved parties removed. This policy recognizes the potentially adverse consequences of releasing identifying information, especially in cases where doing so may discourage the use of critical safety resources.

Q: Will the employee be sanctioned?
A: The employee has been placed on leave pending the outcome of the investigation. 

Q: Was there a call to 911?
A: No. The caller contacted Smith College's Campus Police dispatch. 

Q: Is there a police report available of the July 31 call to campus police?
A: Per Campus Police, no report was filed since the responding officer determined that the call was unfounded.


Updates on the Investigation

Friday, August 3, 2018

Dear Students, Staff and Faculty:

I would like to take this opportunity to alert you to three developments resulting from initial fact-finding about the July 31 call to Campus Police.

  • We are releasing the redacted transcript of the July 31 call. It is now available below.
  • The employee who placed the call to Campus Police has been placed on leave pending the outcome of the external investigation.
  • The college has retained the Sanghavi Law Office to conduct a thorough, external investigation. The firm has extensive experience conducting civil rights investigations,  including investigative experience at the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights.

We are committed to timely and transparent communication throughout this investigation, and will send further updates to the community as soon as they are available.

Sincerely,

Amy Hunter
Interim Director of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity; Institutional Equity Officer and Title IX Coordinator


Campus Police Transcript

July 31, 2018, 1:53 p.m.

Dispatch: Campus Police, recorded line.

Reporting Caller: I was just walking through here in the front foyer of [REDACTED] and we have a person sitting there laying down in the living room area over here. I didn’t approach her or anything but um he seems to be out of place … umm … I don’t see anybody in the building at this point and uh I don’t know what he’s doing in there just laying on the couch.

Dispatch: Can I have your last name please?

Reporting Caller: [REDACTED]

Dispatch: I’ll send someone over and check it out.

Reporting Caller: Alright. I’ll wait over here.

Unit Clears

Responding Officer: All clear. That was a student relaxing in the living room. They had lunch here. I guess and they decided to stay for a while.

Dispatch: Received.



From the Institutional Equity Officer

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Yesterday, Campus Police responded to a call from an employee reporting an unknown person who “seemed to be out of place” in a Smith building where the dining area was in use by the college's summer programs. A Campus Police officer responded to the site and spoke with the individual, a Smith undergraduate student of color, who was on a break from her on-campus job. Campus Police found nothing suspicious about the student's presence.

This incident has raised concerns in our community about bias and equity. Smith College does not tolerate race- or gender-based discrimination in any form. Such behavior can contribute to a climate of fear, hostility and exclusion that has no place in our community. I have reached out to the student to offer support and discuss next steps, and will conduct an investigation of the incident with the employee, with Human Resources and with Campus Police.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with concerns or questions.

I strongly encourage any member of the community experiencing bias in any form to immediately notify the college. Confidential reports can be made through EthicsPoint. All reports are investigated in a timely and thorough manner.

Sincerely,

Amy Hunter
Interim Director of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity; Institutional Equity Officer and Title IX Coordinator