SHAPE round table discusses Title IX policy

(Dexter responded to student questions about campus sexual assault policies. Photo by Amanda Martin.)

The University hosted a Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention and Education (SHAPE) round-table discussion for students on Nov. 20 in the Athletic Center President’s Conference Room.

Kim Dexter, director of equal opportunity, Title IX and ADA compliance, said this is the third year SHAPE has hosted a round-table event. It aims to host one per semester.

“Students said they wanted more information to and from the administration,” said Dexter. “It was clear to me there was this kind of disconnect about who is the administration and where does responsibility fall and who could you have conversations with about this. And so, the dean of students and I started convening this group.”

During the first year, seven to eight students typically attended each meeting, said Dexter. About half that many students attended in the second year. Four students attended this semester’s meeting.

Dexter said, “If folks show up, we have a conversation. If not, that’s also OK. But we’re here if people want to have the conversation.”

Dexter opened the discussion by updating students on the status of Title IX and other factors that affect how sexual assault is handled on college campuses. She explained what these measures mean in terms of how Framingham State in particular handles sexual assault.

Dexter described how Betsy DeVos, U.S. secretary of education, recently rescinded the 2011 sexual assault guidance from the Department of Education and the 2014 question-and-answer document.

“So, what does this mean for our campus? Not a whole heck of a lot,” said Dexter.

“We weren’t told we couldn’t follow that guidance anymore, and we believe a lot of it to be best practice and to have really have been for the benefit of our students,” added Dexter, referring not only to FSU but to all of the nine state universities.

Dexter said there will be some forthcoming revisions to FSU’s sexual assault policy, but they will not be “substantive.

“Most of the suggested revisions were to provide greater clarifications, improve formatting and the like,” Dexter added in an email. “You will not see any major shifts at FSU as we assert that our policies and procedures have been carefully crafted around best practices for investigation and analysis with an emphasis on due process for all parties.”

Following Dexter’s update, students were given the opportunity to ask questions and provide suggestions.

Students suggested creating more awareness on campus through club events or by adopting national movements – such as the “MeToo” hashtag – and implementing them on campus.

Dexter said she encourages all ideas regarding prevention and awareness on campus.

“Certainly, my office does some programming. The dean’s office does some programming. But, you know, the more voices that are in this conversation, the more powerful of an impact we can have,” she said.

Alli Cerretani, the SHAPE intern, said she thought the round-table discussion went well.

“My peers who showed up were very prepared and knew how they wanted to make a change in our community,” she added.

Cerretani said, “Sexual harassment and relationship abuse is a hard topic to talk about, but it needs to be. I am hoping that after this successful round-table meeting, it just keeps getting better and better!”

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