Sexual Offense Policy Task Force Report Due by End of Semester

Adiel Kaplan, Staff Writer

Today Oberlin’s Sexual Offense Policy Task Force held its second open forum as it continues to work on a report of policy recommendations for the President expected at the end of the semester. Following this report, President Krislov is expected to make a public statement of the findings to the College community.

The task force was created last November partially as a response to the uproar at Amherst College in October over its sexual offense policy. The controversy spread after a 5,000-word op-ed was published in their student newspaper giving a detailed account of a horrific sexual assault and adjudication process. Other students subsequently came forward to publicly give their own accounts of sexual assault on campus.

According to President Krislov, “The Amherst situation raised the question of ‘Are we doing everything we can to be as effective [as possible] in creating the right kind of environment here on campus?’ There certainly have been questions raised about what we’ve done. It was a combination of the external discussions and the internal discussions, and I think that it was right that we decided to make this task force.”

The task force consists of seven members, three of whom are students: College junior Cuyler Otsuka and College seniors Alicia Dudziak and Naomi Pomerantz. Other members include Eric Estes, vice president of student affairs and dean of students; Meredith Raimondo, associate professor of Comparative American Studies; Mary K. Gray, associate dean for student academic affairs for the Conservatory; Alison Williams, director of the Multicultural Resource Center and associate dean of academic diversity.

In an e-mail to the Review, the student representatives explained that “the task force’s goal is to engage a range of campus constituencies in order to examine the Oberlin College Sexual Offense Policy and its administration with the goal of making recommendations to the president, which will be shared with the Oberlin community.”

In response to the turmoil on Amherst’s campus, the Amherst administration created a Special Oversight Committee on Sexual Misconduct, not unlike the Oberlin Sexual Offense Policy Task Force. In fact, Oberlin employed the same consultants in preparing its reports.

Amherst published its report at the end of January to a mixed reception from students, many of whom argued that the report did not address the underlying causes of sexual violence. One student, Dana Bolger, wrote a blog post published by The Huffington Post a week after the report came out accusing Amherst of not acknowledging the existence of repeat offenders on campus. Oberlin’s task force is due to give its report to President Krislov before the end of the semester, who will then publish a public version of the findings.

The task force has been meeting weekly since December, reviewing the current policy and assessing campus resources. They have also met with individuals wishing to discuss experiences and opinions on the policy and are continuing to do so.