SPCSA holds termly discussion on sexual misconduct initiatives

by Lorraine Liu | 10/23/18 2:55am

Amidst the College’s recent decision to investigate hazing allegations and College President Phil Hanlon’s announcement of plans for new sexual misconduct policy, Dartmouth’s Student and Presidential Committee on Sexual Assault held its termly open round-table discussion about sexual assault on campus on Oct. 18.

Last week’s round-table discussion coincided with Hanlon’s announcement that the College will adopt a more unified policy on sexual misconduct. However, Paulina Calcaterra ’19, executive chair of SPCSA, said, the timing of the round-table and the announcement was coincidental. The College’s Presidential Steering Committee on Sexual Misconduct, not the SPCSA, made the recommendations to the College for its new policy.

According to Calcaterra, approximately 20 people attended the event. Most of the attendees were undergraduate students, but a few were College administrators, including Title IX coordinator Kristi Clemens and senior associate dean of student affairs Liz Agosto ’01. SPCSA received responses to through form they sent out prior to the event. The form also included a comment section for students to submit feedback on Dartmouth’s sexual assault policy and prevention without attending the event.

The open round-table discussion serves as a termly check-in with students to ensure that their voices are heard by the College, Calcaterra said. SPCSA is the liaison providing students with “a safe and direct line of communication” with the College’s leadership, according to Calcaterra.

“Students don’t have to take the initiative themselves to set up a meeting with the College leadership to share their feedback,” Calcaterra said. “They could come here and we will do the sharing.”

SPCSA held its first round-table discussion this past summer and will continue to hold it every term, Calcaterra said. Though the topic of the discussion centered around sexual assault and its prevention, the content was completely shaped by the attendees.

“The themes that come up are based on who are the people in the room,” Calcaterra said.

According to a draft of the discussion’s summary obtained by The Dartmouth, students at Thursday’s discussion inquired about the College’s sexual assault investigation processes and the College’s progress with sexual violence prevention. In response, the committee discussed changes to the orientation curriculum and other new programs to prevent violence. They also brainstormed ways to increase student engagement at sexual violence prevention events and discussed tensions surrounding male students’ engagement with sexual violence prevention.

“I appreciate the way that the leadership framed the conversation and set up some ground rules, creating a space for students to share what their concerns, positive feedback and negative feedback were,” Clemens said. “I appreciate that everyone was really engaged in the conversation.”

Within two weeks after the discussion, SPCSA members will submit a memo of the discussion to the College for administrators and staff to better understand students’ experience. The past summer’s summary has been helpful in addressing students’ concerns, Calcaterra said. She added that the College has held a meeting with different student groups to discuss the concerns that students identified in the summer round-table.

“SPCSA does such great and thorough work in identifying issues in our community,” Clemens said. “So I really look forward to receiving those memos.”

Monik Walters ’19 attended the SPCSA round table as current Student Assembly president. She and SA vice president Nicole Knape ’19 ran on a platform addressing diversity, sexual violence awareness and mental health.

Walters expressed support for SPCSA’s work, adding that she hoped to learn from the conversation that the committee is facilitating across campus.

“For me, it’s an assessment of how to approach these issues when we want to look for future collaboration with other groups that are doing these kinds of work, and if we want to vary our methods of reaching out and calling people in,” she said.