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May 1, 2014

Over the course of the day, students and members of the administration engaged in productive dialogue regarding the status of discussions between Tufts and the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Education (OCR), and the university’s support for victims/survivors of sexual misconduct. This dialogue laid the groundwork for further productive collaboration toward the shared goals of preventing and responding to sexual misconduct at Tufts and protecting the safety of the university community. In particular, students and administrators agreed on the following points:

  • OCR has stated its position that the revocation of signature on behalf of Tufts constitutes a breach of the Voluntary Resolution Agreement, and that the Voluntary Resolution Agreement is still in effect. In the interest of moving toward a resolution, Tufts acknowledges and understands OCR’s position. The university is fully committed to continuing to take the actions outlined in the Voluntary Resolution Agreement.
  • The university has had productive conversations with OCR regarding the issue of Title IX compliance. Those ongoing conversations are clarifying the basis for OCR’s contention that the university is out of compliance. We anticipate that those conversations will move toward a successful conclusion in the very near future, well within the sixty-day period that has been stipulated. The university is committed to resolution.
  • President Monaco has approved the establishment of the new position of Response and Resource Coordinator and has asked the members of the Task Force to further develop the job description for this new position. This individual’s assistance will be confidential, to the extent possible in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. This position joins the already established new position of Sexual Misconduct Prevention Specialist. The university will move forward as quickly as possible, consistent with the need to recruit the best possible candidate, with the goal of filling the position in the fall; the university commits to keeping the members of the Task Force updated on the progress of the search.
  • Over the course of the summer, the Task Force will review the university’s guidelines for disciplinary sanctions with respect to cases of sexual misconduct, with the goal of implementing and publishing revised guidelines by the beginning of the fall semester, subject to any and all necessary approval processes. This effort will be undertaken as part of a comprehensive review of guidelines and sanctions for conduct in order to ensure consistency and appropriate proportionality.
  • The university’s policies provide that a typical sexual misconduct adjudication process will take between 60 and 90 calendar days. Individuals involved in a sexual misconduct adjudication process may continue to request an update on its status from OEO at any time. In order to ensure the prompt and equitable handling of cases, when circumstances dictate that a sexual misconduct adjudication process takes longer than 60 calendar days, OEO will send a written status update to the parties involved and offer them an explanation of the timeline.
  • The university has affirmed that its policies ensure that any victim/survivor or complainant can access interim measures including residential and academic interim measures regardless of whether that victim/survivor or complainant decides to file a formal complaint with respect to the sexual misconduct. The new Response and Resource Coordinator will assist victims/survivors and complainants in accessing these interim measures.
  • It was noted that the university will continue to update its policies and resources at the comprehensive website:

This conversation did not begin today and must not end today. It must be part of an ongoing dialogue about how our community can best support those impacted by sexual misconduct and improve the campus climate.

The university regrets that recent events had the unintended consequence of causing some members of our community to feel unsupported. The administration reaffirms its commitment to acknowledge and validate the experiences of victims/survivors of sexual violence on campus.

Looking ahead, we will work together toward our shared goals of preventing and responding promptly and equitably to sexual violence on campus; of supporting victims/survivors; and of making this community as safe as possible for all its members.

Participants in the discussions:

From the Administration:
President Anthony P. Monaco
Provost and Senior Vice President David R. Harris
Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mary R. Jeka
Chief of Staff Michael A. Baenen
Senior Director of Health and Wellness Services Michelle D. Bowdler
Dean of Student Affairs Mary Pat McMahon
Associate General Counsel Lili Palacios-Baldwin
Director of Equal Opportunity Jill A. Zellmer

Representatives and Organizers of Today’s Undergraduate Student Action:
Nina Bernstein, Class of 2014
Jordan Dashow, Class of 2014
Anne Goodman, Class of 2015
Kumar Ramanathan, Class of 2015
John Kelly, Class of 2015
Julie Cox, Class of 2015
Robert Joseph, Class of 2015
Caroline Peeples, Class of 2016
Emily Schacter, Class of 2016
Olivia Carle, Class of 2017
Audrey Chu, Class of 2017
Allyson Blackburn, Class of 2017