On April 16, 2013, President Jonathan Veitch announced in an open letter to the college that Occidental planned to employ private lawyers Gina Smith and Leslie Gomez to compile a thorough review of Occidental’s sexual assault policy. This was just one of several steps taken to address a civil court case filed by 37 students and alumni, alleging that the college mishandled the investigations of their sexual assaults.
But despite continuing tension over the management of sexual assault cases and a monetary settlement with 10 of the original plaintiffs of the Title IX case, no formal report has been released, nearly a year and a half after the original announcement.
This is especially troubling as the report will not only encompass an assessment of the college’s current policy, but will offer recommendations for change. Without these proposals, it is less likely that the college will have the information and ability to move forward and create meaningful modifications.
It ought to be noted that the college has implemented the changes suggested by Smith and Gomez in their initial recommendations on April 30, 2013. Changes include creating a separate Title IX office with a full-time coordinator, hiring an advocate for sexual assault survivors and amending the sexual assault policy to clarify ambiguities in the original language.
Despite these steps forward, the lack of transparency around the report’s continued delay is inexcusable. The last update on the report’s progress was published by Veitch on Aug. 23, 2013. Since then, there has been no additional information issued to the Occidental community or the public regarding the status of the report. It is even unclear what parties are responsible for the tardiness of the report.
We, as students, must demand accountability with each passing day. Our long summer breaks are not conducive to promoting campus activism, but for the safety and well-being of our peers, we need to make action and accountability our ultimate priorities.