EDITORIAL: When ‘the best course of action’ isn’t enough

At issue: Vacant Title IX lead investigator position

Our take: Refusal to communicate renders ambiguity

The Office of Title IX Equity and Access still does not have a lead investigator after an eight-month search, and the office took down the job posting earlier this month after two out of the three qualified candidates took jobs elsewhere. The Office has not employed a lead investigator since last semester when Pamela Ring left the college to pursue private practice in early January. Emerson now uses external investigators.

We cannot comprehend why the “best course of action” involves the removal of the posting due to the office’s lack of communication.

Though the office sparingly commented in past Beacon articles, which we mentioned in an editorial last semester, they also repeatedly deny interviews. While we respect the privacy of victims and the confidentiality of individual cases, we feel we have the right to more information about the process of finding another lead investigator.  

We feel the office should inform the Beacon and the college at-large on the process because it is a crucial student resource. The lead investigator holds responsibility for handling all Title IX investigations at the college, and the lack of that position is highly problematic since a case remains open. This inaction trivializes the experiences of survivors, and leaves uncertainty for future investigations.

According to the Department of Education, as of Sept. 28, 2018, the college still has one open case from 2013. The case contains four complaints against dissemination of policy, procedural requirements, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. Emerson’s Clery Report, which publishes an institution’s annual crime statistics, shows that reported rapes have doubled from three incidents in 2016 to six incidents in 2017—a wildly increasing number from 2015’s zero.

However, Emerson’s history with Title IX has always been sticky. In a 2017 Beacon op-ed, Piper Clark said that, after 116 days of the administration questioning everything from her drinking habits to her choice of dress, her assailant was found responsible. In 2013, Sarah Tedesco said to Huffington Post that Emerson’s administration told her she “shouldn’t be making a big deal” out of her attack. When Emerson found her assailant not guilty, Tedesco claimed she was assaulted during the probe by the same person.

Sexual assault and violence are not confined to our campus. Recent movements, like #MeToo and Time’s Up, show how these issues pervade Hollywood, the political world, and everyday life. And while some of those accused faced consequences, the recent nomination of Brett Kavanaugh—who allegedly assaulted Dr. Christine Blasey Ford at a high school party—to the Supreme Court illustrates sexual assault cases must be handled differently. As a college, we should strive to set an example and provide consistent and sufficient resources if a student needs to file a Title IX complaint.

We don’t just want a lead investigator, we need one. We demand one.

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