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Civil rights investigation widespread

February 26, 2016

Monmouth College, along with 164 other schools, will be visited by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights to investigate a total 205 open cases of sexual violence. Only one case has been reported at Monmouth College. In response to questions, USDOE press office representative Jim Bradshaw provided additional information to The Courier.

These investigations aim to uncover any violations of Title IX involving the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints.

Jacquelyn Condon, Monmouth College vice president for student life, dean of students and Title IX coordinator explained that in the Monmouth College investigation, the student who filed the claim “believed that they have been discriminated against in some way, and procedures were not followed,” which served as the grounds to file a case with the OCR. This case was initiated on September 11, 2014

As explained in a campus-wide email sent on Wednesday, February 24, the OCR will be on campus the week of February 29, sponsoring meetings open to the entire student body on Tuesday, March 1 at 3:00 p.m. and Wednesday, March 2 at 2:30 p.m. in the Morgan Room of Poling Hall. When asked for clarification of the format of these meetings, Condon explained that she was unaware of the OCR’s general procedure and contacted their office for further details, which have yet to be explained.

The OCR has also asked to meet specifically with members of the Monmouth College community who are victims of sexual assault. This meeting will take place on Wednesday, March 2 at 12:30 p.m. in the Morgan Room. Condon also does not know the format of this event and is waiting for a response from the OCR. Due to the potential awkwardness of these meetings, Condon hopes the OCR facilitator attempts to prevent discomfort and allows students to share as much or little information as wanted.

Amber Berge, head resident of Peterson Hall added that depending on the format of discussion it could be “uncomfortable for those people who physically may not want others to know they are survivors of sexual assault. It can be difficult for those people who don’t want to talk about it or have confided in the school to process everything and do not want to come out and speak publicly about it. A limited understanding of the meeting’s format could definitely leave people feeling uneasy

As a member of resident life, Berge will attend a meeting with the OCR designed specifically for residence life staff. “I wasn’t encouraged as an HR to ask people to attend the public event, but if I have people ask me about it, I will encourage them to attend because it’s important to talk about it especially if you are wondering about what is going on.”

Condon explained that as an institution, Monmouth College is “open to learning if there are things we need to do differently” if the OCR finds procedural violations.

Julianna Graf

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