Veitch creates sexual assault committee

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President Jonathan Veitch announced the creation of the Campus Committee on Sexual Responsibility and Misconduct (CCSRM) Oct. 24, days before releasing the Pepper Hamilton report on Occidental’s sexual assault policies. Veitch charged the committee with several tasks, including reviewing the college’s sexual assault policy, engaging in community outreach and providing feedback on educational programming.

Members of the 13-person committee were drawn from various parts of the Occidental community, including Athletics, Student Affairs, Financial Aid, faculty, administration and the student body. CCSRM members include Occidental’s Title IX Coordinator Ruth Jones, Chief of Campus Safety Victor Clay and Director of Student Wellness Sara Semal.

“For this committee, I thought it important to have representatives from students, staff and faculty, and I also wanted individuals from units that are involved in implementation of some aspect of the college’s response to sexual violence,” Veitch said in an email.

Amy Fluett (senior), a Project SAFE programming assistant, was appointed by the Associated Students of Occidental College to be the only student on the committee.

“Student voices are often lost in the politics of everything, so I think it’s important [to be on the committee],” Fluett said. “I think that’s going to be my role—to make sure that what students want is heard and hopefully translated into making this school a better place.”

The CCSRM is the newest iteration of sexual assault committees formed by Veitch since the college’s sexual assault policy first came under scrutiny. The first was the Sexual Assault Task Force, created in Spring 2013. The seven-member committee fostered dialogue regarding Occidental’s sexual assault policy, according to the Pepper Hamilton report. The task force disbanded after it released a report assessing the sexual assault policy to the school in May 2013.

The Sexual Misconduct Advisory Board (SMAB) was established the following term, and was initially comprised of faculty and student representatives in charge of reviewing the college’s sexual assault policy. The Faculty Council designated the remaining members of SMAB, now in its third term, to also serve as part of the CCSRM.

“SMAB is now a faculty-only committee, so I constituted CCSRM as a campus-wide committee for the 2014-15 academic year to continue working with [Jones] as we move toward a revision of our interim sexual misconduct policy,” Veitch said. “The committee mixes those with a long history at the college with committee members who are new to the college and, therefore, offer a fresh perspective.”

The level of student representation has decreased over the course of these different sexual assault committees. While students made up about a quarter of the Sexual Assault Task Force, Fluett is one of 13 members of the CCSRM. Despite being the only student voice on the committee, Fluett is confident that the committee will take student concerns into account.

“It’s important that students know that there are people on this committee who actually do care,” Fluett said.

In a campus-wide email, Veitch noted that the CCSRM is to release a report of its findings to the Occidental community by May 1, 2015. Veitch said that he will regularly meet with Jones to check on the progress of the committee.The CCSRM is set to meet for the first time in the beginning of November.