In an attempt to circumvent the limitations of Title IX rules adopted by the Trump administration, Brown University has set up a new policy for reporting sexual misconduct that will allow students to anonymously report allegations of sexual misconduct against another person on campus.
Anonymous reporting, however, is not the same thing as filing a Title IX complaint — an action that would automatically trigger an investigation.
The new policy will “complement” the university’s existing sexual misconduct guidelines. It will create “a broader definition of sexual harassment and categorizing sexual exploitation — which includes voyeurism, prostitution, disseminating sexual images of a person, exposing genitals and purposely exposing someone to a sexually transmitted infection — as prohibited conduct,” the school said.
According to guidelines set up during the Trump era, Brown and other universities have no hand in sexual assault allegations that occur off campus. However, Brown’s new policy extends to misconduct that takes place outside university property, including during activities abroad.
“The students I discussed the policy with before it was adopted were positive about the policy, especially its coverage of specific off-campus behaviors and the change in how cross-examination takes place,” Rene Davis, the university’s Title IX Coordinator, wrote.
For more than a decade, Brown has faced severe backlash from activists who claimed the school has swept multiple sexual harassment allegations under the rug.
The story we are here to tell is taught in a class your school will never offer. It’s a story written bravely by the voices your institution has worked so hard to silence. It is your story. (1/5) pic.twitter.com/SXNgaAwA2y
— University Survivors Movement (@weareusm) January 6, 2021
In February, activists from the University Survivors Movement, an international coalition fighting sexual violence on college campuses, organized a socially-distanced protest condemning the university leadership’s lackadaisical approach to the issue of rape and sexual harassment on campus.
The new sexual misconduct policy is expected to address those allegations.
Amanda Cooper, 22, who works as an outreach coordinator for the Voices of Brown, an Instagram account where students submit personal accounts of sexual violence, believes the new policy holds the university more responsible for cases of sexual misconduct beyond its legal obligations. “The new sexual and gender-based misconduct policy is fantastic,” she told The Brown Daily Herald.
Some students, however, are skeptical about the policy’s ability to fundamentally change the campus culture.
Nina Faynshtayn, a co-organizer of End Sexual Violence@Brown, a coalition of students and student-run organizations, believes the university should focus on assault survivors and their needs.
“While the policy may improve the reporting system, it will not change the culture and community that is currently present on campus. We need to work toward both preventing sexual violence and supporting those who have experienced it,” she said.