As part of a national effort to address sexual violence on college campuses, the Institute has updated its Student Sexual Misconduct Policy. The updated policy was approved at an April meeting of the General Faculty.
The new stand-alone policy now has its own reporting and adjudication processes, separate from those of the Student Code of Conduct.
In preparation for the 2014-15 academic year, students are encouraged to read the policy and understand what specific behaviors are in violation of it, paying particular attention to the definition and importance of consent for all sexual activity. The policy also outlines the rights of all parties involved in a report of sexual misconduct.
The Institute has a number of resources and ongoing efforts in this area, and President G.P. “Bud” Peterson convened a task force to evaluate those efforts this summer. In an April 2014 editorial regarding sexual assault, Peterson wrote that “we can and must do more to raise awareness and take the appropriate actions against those who commit such acts.”
Changes were made with an eye toward ensuring transparency in the reporting and adjudication processes and to minimize barriers that may prevent survivors from reporting sexual misconduct. Notable changes to the policy, many of which were endorsed by the Undergraduate Judiciary Cabinet, include:
- Student panels will no longer hear sexual misconduct cases. All reports will be investigated by trained administrative staff in the Office of Student Integrity.
- An appeals committee of three trained campus administrators will now review appeals, rather than just the Dean of Students. The appeals committee will consist of the Dean of Students and two other trained administrators from outside Student Affairs.
- An expanded scope of behaviors that covers intimate partner/dating violence; stalking; use of coercion or intimidation; and advocating for, inciting, or actively encouraging sexual violence. This is in addition to non-consensual sexual contact, non-consensual sexual intercourse, and sexual harassment that the policy already covered.
- A new provision of first-considered sanctions for policy violations. This includes expulsion for non-consensual sexual intercourse.
Also, to help ensure that reports of sexual violence are handled with the utmost care, compassion, and diligence, all campus administrators involved with investigating and resolving allegations of sexual misconduct will now receive annual training from an outside expert.
Additionally, the VOICE initiative provides training and educational opportunities throughout the year for students and staff, and the Office of Human Resources is creating an educational model for all Institute employees.
These policy changes reflect national best practices, align the Institute with other leading institutions, and ensure compliance with federal regulations. The White House recently launched a Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault and created the companion site notalone.gov. Legislation is currently in process in both the Senate and House of Representatives to address sexual assault on college campuses.
For additional information regarding Georgia Tech’s commitment to addressing sexual violence, visit www.voice.gatech.edu.
Office of Student Integrity