Dash Paulson reports on Senate Task Force on Sexual Violence meeting

UO Matters: Because of the importance of Thursday’s July 24th meeting of the Senate Task force on Sexual Violence to the UO community and beyond, I hired reporter Dash Paulson as a freelancer to cover it. Mr. Paulson wrote several excellent stories as an Emerald reporter, including the first substantive interview with President Gottfredson, in January 2013, here, and he previously reported for UO Matters on the June Trustees meetings, here and here. His summary is below, followed by a detailed report on the meeting. As usual, quotes are in quotes, otherwise it’s the gist of the discussion.

The Task Force’s Official website is here, prior UO Matters posts are here. President Gottfredson’s self-appointed “External Review Panel” is scheduled to meet Wednesday and Thursday, still no word on whether their meetings will be open or closed.

Mr. Paulson’s report:

Last Thursday, the new Task Force to Address Sexual Assault and Survivor Support, created by a motion in the faculty senate, met to elect a chair and clarify the goals and mission of the new group.

Professor Carol Stabile and Randy Sullivan volunteered to co-chair the task force. Stabile wanted to focus on facilitating the task force meetings while Sullivan leads development of a tentative new course to educate students and to some extent UO employees on sexual violence. After unanimously electing Sullivan and Stabile as co-chairs, the group had a lengthy discussion on the charge of the task force. It was widely agreed that the task force should begin by gathering as much information as possible about the UO’s process and policies on sexual assault cases. Task Force members Sandy Weintraub, director of student conduct & community standards, and Renae DeSautel, sexual violence response coordinator, volunteered to give a presentation on the UO’s policy on handling sexual assault incidents. Some members said that the procedure appeared from the outside to be “broken” in light of the March 8th incident of alleged sexual assault, and they felt part of the group’s charge would be to identify problems and recommend improvements.

The group also discussed the upcoming Campus Climate Survey. Stabile said the task force should endorse the University’s proposed survey along with others, like one conducted by Professor of Psychology, Jennifer Freyd, who has been developing a survey on campus sexual violence for two years.

Several members wanted to understand better what the panel initiated by President Gottfredson will be doing. Senate President Robert Kyr, who called in for the first half hour of the meeting, told the Task Force the President’s Chief of Staff, Gregory Rikhoff, would be contacting them. There was discussion of liaisons between the groups. By the end of the meeting, the task force agreed to meet again in two weeks and in the meantime make contact with other groups on campus that deal with sexual violence. Talking points next time will include the presentation by Weintraub and DeSautel, the role of alcohol in “party culture”, and more about a possible course on the nature of sexual violence.

The full, updated committee membership, which now includes US Attorney for Oregon Amanda Marshall, is on the committee website, here. Senate President Rob Kyr and Andrew Lubash showed up via conference call.

3:06 p.m. Introductions

Lisa Mick Shimizu: Thanks everyone for coming. Welcomes two new members, Andrew Lubash who will join via a conference call and Cheney Ryan (Law). UO Ombudsman Bruce McCalister has also joined the committee, but he’s on a plane at the moment.

3:10 Confirmation of Chair

Lisa Mick Shimizu: We need to confirm a chair. Two folks nominated as co-chairs. Randy Sullivan and Carol Stabile. Thanks for taking this important job on.

Randy Sullivan: No problem. So the agreement we came up with is that Carol will chair more and I’ll work on undergraduate education component. “My expertise lies more on the instructional component. Was that your understanding, Carol?”

Carol Stabile: Sounds good. “I would work with Lisa and other members of the committee to run the meetings.” Randy Sullivan will handle component with undergraduate course.

Lisa Mick Shimizu: let’s have a vote. All in favor of Randy and Carol as co-chairs say aye, all opposed nay.

Committee approves chairs unanimously. No abstentions.

Discuss open meeting rules and how meetings will be run

Lisa Mick Shimizu: I’ll turn it over to Carol.

Carol Stabile: Thanks. First thing we’ll talk about are the open meeting rules. “When I was talking to Robert about this, we agreed we need to proceed as openly as we can, perhaps in contrast to what other parts of the university might be doing.” Any one who wants to come to meetings can do so. Please encourage people to email co-chairs for clarification and questions. If there are sensitive aspects of what were talking about, specifically privacy and student privacy, we can go into executive session and ask others to leave the room.

David Espinoza: How would that work?

Carol Stabile: “We need to pay attention to agenda. Some of the agenda items might need us to enter the executive session.” we might be discussing things that are more private in nature “confidential elements may come up and I would ask more experienced people to speak up if they do.”

Randy Sullivan: We obviously should pay attention to it, but not sure when we would be pulling up student records.

Renae DeSautele: If we are discussing a specific student or their experience I would like to switch to executive session.

Jennifer Freyd: We should follow Senate policies on this. We might want to decide for people who are observing to submit their questions, time allowing. We want the community to participate in a non-disruptive way.

Carol Stabile: My concern is that there will be an expectation for there to be more time than we have for public comment and question. Want to do both, but we need other ways for people to get questions or clarification.

Jennifer Freyd: Could use cards submitted ahead of time and the have strict time limits on questions.

Carol Stabile:Every time we meet?

Jennifer Freyd: Could see where that goes. I’d be surprised if we got more than one card.

David Espinoza:If we’re going to close the meeting at any point, what do we articulate as the reason for closing?

Jennifer Freyd: Reads out policies to panel. Lays out categories for moving to executive session.

Carol Stabile:how will we take into account categories that don’t necessarily fall into these Senate categories?

Randy Sullivan: This is a basic democracy problem. Rights of individual versus needs of many.

Jennifer Freyd: this shouldn’t be up to the will of the committee, but up to rules. “Every person should be very, very careful if discussing a private student.” We should be very cautious about ever discussing individual students. Should be planned in advance if we do so, not spur of moment.

Randy Sullivan: I agree, we need to be careful.

Sandy Weintraub: May I also record you bring some FERPA materials.

Carol Stabile:Whenever we meet we should just cite relevant passages about public meetings. Moving along.

Could you tell us a little about the website, Lisa?

Lisa Mick Shimzu:”So the webpage will become more robust with time.” Plan to put up meeting minutes up online as well. Should we vote to approve minutes before we put it up?

What about relevant documents to what we’re talking about?If someone has a relevant document for group to read, we could put it up online as well. Would be helpful to people looking at the work of the committee. Eventually I will put up a list of all members, but we need to confirm every one on the task force.

Rob: Sorry, I need to leave soon, but I wanted to know whether we should post membership as it exists now or after we are finalized as a group.

Carol Stabile: my concern is this, Rob. The President’s office will meet soon with their own discussion.

Rob: Gregory Rikhoff [Gottfredson’s chief of staff] contacted me and I told him we want to work with them. Rickhoff invited us to work with them. I suppose Carol would be one to reach out to him. He’d like Carol to be a panelist for the president’s panel. We’d like a liaison from our group to theirs and vice versa.

Rob: My understanding is the president’s group will meet every month.

Carol:I’ll find out about that and report back to every one on that.

Rob: If we posted membership as it stands we could always change it.

Carol Stabile:the sooner we publicize it the better probably.

Rob:Could you post membership today or tomorrow?

Lisa Mick Shimzu: Sure

Rob: I’ll let everyone know we’ve posted edits and the webpage is up and running. Any other questions before I leave?
Carol Stabile: Thanks for coming Rob.

Rob leaves 3:28

Discuss procedures for decision making

Carol:Next item is decisions making. What do you think Randy?We have history of consensus model. What do you think would be the best way to handle this?

Randy Sullivan: I’d recommend before putting things to vote take straw polls to see if there are problems.

Randy Sullivan:find out who objects to what and why.

Carol Stabile:sounds good.

Discuss press contacts

Carol: Next the agenda says discuss press contacts but I assume chairs will be contacts for press.

Randy Sullivan:should be just one person. I’ll do it and refer anything I can’t handle to Carol or Lisa.

Review draft of goals, continue to discuss and refine charge

3:30

Carol Stabile: Maybe we should look at expertise from white house and see where we are in relation to it. Would help us define our charge better.

“The first part of our charge was to assess the University’s response to the recent incident of sexual violence. That was such a key part of our charge that I think we need some kind of account or report [out of this committee].”

Randy Sullivan: “The task of finding out what happened, it’s essentially the the investigative journalism task: find out what happened.” It seems to me like we need a different skill set to find out what happened, beyond the broad charges or conduct an assessment of the services.

Carol: “I think when we talk about investigating it, its not about how services were provided to the survivor, its about how the case was handled and a break down of that. My sense is you don’t ned an investigative background to figure out the sequence of events.” It also has to address the university’s response.

Renae DeSautel: while we’re talking about this, “I think it bears mentioning the survivor has an amazing attorney who specializes in title IX, specializes in sexual assault on campus. There is public knowledge that she actually has someone who looking into this on her behalf.” She has great representation. Because she has access to her own records she has access to what happened. I support her in doing that her own way, but as far as I know she hasn’t asked anyone else to look into it.

Jennifer Freyd: I have a few problems with that. We shouldn’t assume so much. shouldn’t assume that her lawyer is out to expose what happened.

“Most of this lawyer’s cases have been settled with gag orders. She has a fantastic lawyer, but most of his cases have been settled quietly.”

I think its a tricky issue. the things that we can ask about have to deal with how or if information is being presented to this task force or if major rules and regulations were followed. This isn’t about second guessing what any particular person wants.

Renae DeSautel:My question about the charge was are we focusing only on this case? We have a lot of cases happen. By recent do we mean the past year? “It’s not clear.”

Carol Stabile: I think we need to ask how players are being recruited as well. “I have no idea how it works. I don’t know what kind of calculus is used.” When do we have players who have disciplinary problems? I’m not talking about how its handled from survivors point of view, I’m asking about the admin’s proceedures and policies.We need to find out about more party culture. I didn’t know about wine wednesday last fall , where some girls were sent to the hospital with alcohol poisoning. What is the culture?What are the connections of greek life? Are they part of national organization or doing their own thing?

Sandy:Yeah, they are [associated]. The fraternities and sororities we recognize are connected too national offices. When there is a concern they are notified and the appropriate sanctions are applied.

Randy Sullivan: Are there some that aren’t recognized by UO?

Sandy:I don’t know. There could be some out there not recognized by us.

Andrew Lubash: “Can I say something? I’m actually part of a fraternity. I think we should take a very critical look at Greek life,” every greek life is connected. The national offices rarely contact them unless they are in trouble for something.

Carol Stabile: “One thing I hear us keep coming back to has to do with reporting [sexual assault].” What other incidents are happening?

Sheryl Eyster: They aren’t all sexual assaults, but often related to it.

Carol Stabile: How then do you report these incidents on campus? So it’s not just one case that has to bear all the weight?

Sheryl Eyster: It’s really hard to work with survivors who feel like “Oh my gosh, they don’t even care about us” or who feel like “I don;’t want the University senate making a decision for me or my case.” I think that is a really complicated situation to navigate. “The things we do want to know could impact the survivors. The info we want to get out there could be important to a legal case.”

We have to be really careful about what information gets released publicly. A lot of it is for legal reasons that can affect court cases. In this case the case took on a life of its own. In some respects we were disappointed in our own campus newspaper” and in some of the other information that was propagated. “It’s a real hard time to be a survivor on our campus.”

Renae DeSautel: I want other people to feel safe on this camp,s to know what’s going on, that this isn’t an appropriate way to behave on this campus, know what the numbers are, but how can we do that whiteout violating the rights of the people who were hurt?

Carol Stabile: I think we can identify breakdowns in the system. We can find bad procedures that can be fixed.

Sheryl Eyster: I think thats a good thing. We should look at how our athletes are recruited. But we need to look beyond athletes. We should know if any student coming in is a sex offender.

Sandy Weintraub: That would be up to admissions. I don’t know if there’s a question about that on the application. “Even if there was a question, a prospective student would say no.

Sheryl Eyster: I don’t think they do.

Sandy: Yeah.

Randy Sullivan: I’m getting very confused with the use of the pronoun ”we.” Is we the University or we the committee? First of all, we just need to get it straight because we’re talking about somethings we as a committee can’t do. “We need to know what we are doing with this charge[as a committee].” “I’m seeing three lines of approach. We use it as a tool to hold administration responsible if there was an malfeasance. The hard line approach. The second is we use it as a case study to see if anything went wrong, how it went wrong, and how it could be fixed. and the third is to take the charge very liberally and look at more recent cases in general. I think we, the committee, need to be aware of what we can and can’t do” We aren’t a judicial committee.

“Also, athlete recruiting policies are among the most secretive practices. One thing they hold near and dear is how they recruit.” I agree we should look at it, but that’s “poking at a tender spot.”

Carol Stabile: The charge is to assess the university’s response to the recent case, not bring charges. We can also generate a list of problems. There were a lot of students who felt unsafe in the wake of that incident. We need to think about how to improve. I think we can agree on a set of policies and ideas to improve responses in future and change policies.

David Espinoza: “Is this at all similar to the charge of the other committee[President’s committee]?

Sheryl Eyster: More investigative I think.

David: What are the problems with this other committee?

Carol Stabile: Well it wasn’t very transparent how the panel was picked. It’s been controversial because only one person with significant knowledge of sexual assault is on the panel., and that’s the person from Ohio State. University redacting documents, being difficult with providing information. “There’s a perception that the University is doing what it can to cover itself legally without a real intent to investigate. I wish there was something that showed a real good faith effort to get to the heart of the problems and not just look like a risk management approach.”

David: “Anyone here think the President’s group could produce a good document?” Could we influence that group?

Carol:I don’t know.

Randy Sullivan: It’s the hand we were dealt.

Jennifer Freyd: “I’d like to come back to something Randy said about using this as a case study.” I think its important to understand what happens when a report comes in in a general way. I’m not sure, I was told that its standard procedure for all sexual assaults report to be conveyed to the president immediately. If that’s standard proceedure I think we need to know that, if it’s not we definitely need to know more. How are these decisions made? We need to understand these processes. From the outside they look broken or at least not transparent. If that information could be provided to this committee, without necessarily naming a specific case, but just help us understand.

Sheryl Eyster. I agree, it would help us see gaps. I know that Sandy knows about that.

Jennifer Freyd: What is the policy? “Sometimes a policy can look broken from the outside because it’s not being followed.” Is it always being followed? “It would be irresponsible for us to say that’s the end of the story.” We need to find out if that’s actually whats happening.

Carol Stabile: Is there someone who we could invite to talk us through It?

Sandy Weintraub: “We present on it all the time to other UO groups! We presented it just last week to UOPD.”

David Espinoza: “Jennifer asked a very interesting question, is it standard policy for the president to be told about these soon after they’re reported?” Is it written or policy or just understood?

Carly Smith: Well there are interesting patterns about what crimes are reported and why and to whom. It would be good to know that.

Randy Sullivan: I’d like to see that at the next meeting.

Carol Stabile: I think we could scrub the next meeting and just see that.

Randy Sullivan: Yeah.

Renae DeSautel: We talk about when a report first comes in, who it goes to, who deals with it. We could add some more layers to the presentation as well. More details.

Jennifer Freyd: We need to be aware that different reports are made available to different offices first, depending on conditions.

Randy Sullivan: We are getting to something that is endemic to many of the services that are offered at UO. It’s very decentralized. We need some kind of centralized system or the problem could keep recurring.

Jennifer Freyd: I hope we can get this all spelled out soon. I don’t understand how this kind of behavior wouldn’t be considered a public safety threat.

Carol Stabile: Maybe we should revisit this first question when we have had this presentation. We’ll have more info and perspective.

At this point Stabile asked student leaders in the room if they had opinions or feedback so far.

Helena Schlegel: I worry about focusing on this same case over and over again. It’s already been blown up over and over again. The idea of a case study would be beneficial though.

Beatriz Gutierrez: We need to understand what information isn’t making it to the students and what kind of steps need to be taken for students to feel more safe on their campus. It would be helpful to see where the miscommunication came from that made this whole thing blow up.

Sarah Ray Rondot: I would like to see mandatory reporting to be part of the conversation as well.

Carly Smith: It would be helpful to know how many of those mandatory reports got to the dean of students. Offers patterns we can look at.

Carol Stabile:I think we need to talk about the policy about who is an is not a mandatory reporter. The white house states that not all student employees should be mandatory reporters. Why does UO interprets all student employees as mandatory reporters? We’ve never gotten a satisfactory reason for why that happens. Also, in a reporting process, we need a stronger process for confidentiality in reporting these incidents. People can’t be anonymous with email. Typically easy to track IP addresses.

Sheryl Eyster: Could have a box for dropping off notes.

Renae DeSautel: Great idea!

Carol Stabile: Good idea. Going to come back to discussion on reporting from previous conversation. So Clery has all the aggregate numbers?

Renae DeSautel: Yes, all there. Everyone who became aware of an incident and reported it, they are in those numbers.

Carol Stabile: True of 2012 aggregate as well? Good.

Sheryl Eyster: Ok so thats everyone who came through the doors. That’s helpful.

Carly Smith: I’m surprised how low they are. Thought there would be more reports.

Renae DeSautel and Sandy Weinetraub:Not surprising really. Under-reporting always big problem. If we do our jobs right there will be higher numbers next year.

Renae DeSautel: A lot of students will only work with me because they only want support services. They often don’t want to pursue their perpetrator.

Carol Stabile: Seems there is some consensus from students that fraternities are a part of the problem.

Sandy Weintraub: I’m not surprised by that opinion.

Renae DeSautel: Many experiences are anecdotal. Are assumptions based off what people are being told or have seen? Nature of the problem. Skews the data and information.

Carol Stabile: “Where are the places where these problems are being reproduced? Where on our campus are these behaviors being supported?” Will campus climate survey collect data on sexual violence as well?

Carly Smith: Yes, it should.

Carol Stabile: Anyone know if someone has tried to get another survey? Jennifer has always wanted to do one. What would you need at this point to do that, Jennifer?

Jennifer Freyd: Not much at this point. Pretty affordable survey to conduct. Computing final logistics right now.

Carol Stabile: I saw the graduate school do a survey and there was no way of dealing with negative comments and it wasn’t anonymous. How do we come up with ways of moving on with our survey and using it to be humane and productive?

Helena Schlegel: What does this climate survey look like? What would the Task Force’s role be in the survey?

Carol Stabile: Not sure yet, not set in stone. I think part of what this committee should do is endorse climate surveys. If theres more than one survey, that’s good because we’ll get more data. “This is clearly something that needs to happen, fairly quickly.” Need a plan at the executive level that takes into account hazards of a survey, but the admin’s responses to other crisis has made be not feel particularly confident.

Carly Smith: I was at Dartmouth and they did a climate survey. “It revealed incredible rates of sexual violence” and so the school kept the survey data quiet. We as a committee should establish how exactly we will use our data.

Jennifer Freyd: I wanted the info to be constructive and helpful, but I’m also very protective of it. The more data the better, but backing way up for a minute, this is a project we started a long time ago. Our eye was on the national scene and we wanted it to eventually be administered on campuses all over the country. We found out there was research on this from all over the country to and even from congress. all this happened rather quickly and we eventually ended up helping these national efforts. I think we could all benefit from a federally mandated survey. I’m an empirical scientist and I think some data would really helpful to us, but ultimately to the nation. I usually advocate longer timelines, but some data collected over the summer could be very helpful.

Randy Sullivan: You’re going to publish this research? Glad to hear it.

Renae DeSautel: Could you share what your survey looks like?

Jennifer Freyd: I’ll send you the outlines.

Renae DeSautel: Excellent, Thanks!

David Espinoza: We need to distinguish this survey from the other one and get it all to sync up.

Jennifer Freyd: I don’t really understand how the administration can suddenly do a survey so quickly on this topic. It took me and my team two years to reach this point. How would you know what questions to ask? You wouldn’t have much time to pull experts together to give feedback.

Carly Smith: The only thing that comes close is the alcohol survey that we get from freshman before they start school here.

Renae DeSautel: We do get some good info from that.

Carol Stabile:If we have data that tells us what is happening we can make better decisions.

David Espinoza: but we don’t know who might have been hurt before they even get here.

Sheryl Eyster: We sort of do,but it’s incomplete.

Jennifer Freyd: We tend to get vast underreporting depending on the language. There’s always underreporting. If you ask someone if they were raped, you get low numbers. If you ask if they were subjected to sexual assault, you get higher reporting.

Carly Smith: How long have these freshman surveys been around?

Renae DeSautel: Not long, a couple years. They’ve changed the questions a little. But not long.

Carol Stabile: The faculty union (UAUO) is also very interested in the campus climate survey. Is it true the ASUO was given $400,000 for work on sexual assault issues? Who has responsibility for that?

Beatriz Gutierrez and Helena Schlegel: The group itself has responsibility. They have their own plan set up for the next two years. It’s going to research, stipends, awareness, education, peer mentoring.

Carol Stabile:It would be good to know who all the other groups working to stop sexual assault are. If people could send me the names I could put it into a google document and we might later communicate with them.

Discuss agenda for next meeting

4:39

Randy Sullivan: Carol, just checking the time, are we going to get through what’s left on the agenda?

Carol Stabile: We might get to more next meeting .Is the website going to be set up soon? Good. Should spend some time in the next meeting checking on it?

Randy Sullivan: Everyone should go through the draft goals and rank them.

Tentative topics for next meeting:

–presentation on sexual assault reporting process

–talk about website

–intersections between alcohol and sexual violence

–a possible course in sexual violence for UO students

Carol: We have 15 minutes left. There is training listed here for UO employees, but what is it? What kind of training is provided to greek life on sexual assault or violence?

Andrew Lubash:there’s some training on that. We have to go through Greek EDU. I know it covers sexual assault a little bit.

Randy Sullivan: “Hey Andrew, If your chapter had someone coming down from national to hold your toes to the fire, on sexual misconduct, would you be more likely to hear what they have to say?”

Andrew: Yeah, probably. But the trump card the UO has on greek life is recognition. They can take that away.

Carol Stabile: it’s clear we need more info.

Jennifer Freyd: we should still talk about some of the old data we have, especially employee and faculty knowledge on this issue. Our data suggests knowledge is pretty low.

I think the undergraduate course is a great idea, because it can help people develop intellectually, which is the whole point of a University anyway, and we need it for UO faculty and employees as well. It will be hard, but I think we need it.

Carol: We do have data saying some schools have pulled the course because it fails.

Carol: please send me info

Sheryl Eyster: I think it’s a problem syllabuses don’t have any information or resources on sexual assault. There’s a whole section on support for disabled students. Since September is coming up, we could talk to instructors and GTFs and faculty to include this kind of contact info. Also mention that the class instructor is a mandatory reporter.

Idea warmly welcomed by committee.

Meeting is adjourned 4:59

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