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Notice of Title IX Changes, August 14, 2020

Dear students, staff and faculty:

On May 11, 2020, President McCartney wrote to you about the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issuing new regulations regarding how colleges and universities must investigate and adjudicate sexual misconduct complaints. Because Smith receives funding from the federal government, the college is required to comply with these regulations. The regulations take effect on August 14, 2020. Any conduct occurring before August 14, 2020 will be subject to the procedures in place at that time.

I write to you today to outline new changes to our policies and procedures in response to these requirements. These changes were made in consultation with our Title IX and Sexual Assault Response Team. In conducting this review process, we sought to protect our current procedures and, to the extent possible, ensure an equitable, thorough and sensitive process for all involved. The policy is titled Interim Sexual Misconduct Policy so that we can adjust to a shifting legal landscape and incorporate emerging best practices in the near term.

In summary, significant changes include:

  • The definition of sexual harassment
  • More specificity regarding when complaints are dismissed for Title IX purposes (other college policies may address reported misconduct when Title IX does not apply), with an emphasis on informal resolution
  • An expanded role for advisors‐particularly their role in the hearing process
  • A shift in the role of the investigator to solely fact finding
  • An expanded role for the Hearing Board in determining credibility, relevancy and outcomes

These Title IX-specific changes in no way lessen Smith College’s commitment to addressing a broad range of sexual misconduct and other forms of violence. Gender-based conduct that does not fall within the Title IX definition of sexual harassment will continue to be addressed as appropriate under other college policies. In addition, allegations of sexual harassment will be reviewed under the college’s Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Policy in those cases where both parties to a matter are employees of the college.

For complaints brought against employees by students, the regulations make clear that employee respondents are subject to the same process as students. While appeals still go to the Dean of the College, parties may now appeal dismissals for Title IX purposes.

Please know that our ultimate goal remains the same—to prevent, stop and respond effectively to gender-based and sexual misconduct at Smith. As always, I am available to hear your questions and concerns.

My best -

Amy Hunter
Title IX Coordinator

Title IX Deputies and Sexual Assault Response Team

Kathryn Basham, Professor, Smith School of Social Work
Debra Duncan, Interim Director of Campus Safety
Kris Evans, Interim Director of the Schacht Center, Director of Counseling Services
Kerry-Beth Garvey, Associate Director, Medical Services, Schacht Center
Louise Kellogg, Interim Head of School, Smith College
Marge Litchford, Assistant Dean of Students
Bonnie May, Associate Director of Athletics
Julie Ohotnicky, Associate Dean of the College and Dean of Students
Jenny Silver, Assistant Director/Human Resources Business Partner