Best practices are incorporated in Millersville University’s updated Sexual Misconduct Policy, which applies to students. The Council of Trustees (COT) approved the changes and updates at their meeting on June 13 in the Lombardo Welcome Center on campus.
“Our approach is to align our policy with the educational component of sexual misconduct,” says Elizabeth Swantek, Title IX Coordinator at Millersville. “We want to encourage our students to make great choices and so that they are ready for the workforce when they graduate. We also wanted to use language that’s easy to understand and that makes sense to them.”
The policy was updated to reflect not only sexual misconduct but also sex- and gender- based discrimination involving students and employees. It also outlines the procedures to be followed when reporting complaints of sexual misconduct.
“The goal of having a policy is to prevent sex- and gender- based discrimination and sexual misconduct and effectively remedy the discriminatory effect of sexual misconduct when it occurs,” says Swantek.
The changes were made after research and input from outside consultants, Swantek and the University’s lawyers. Federal law mandates what the University is required to do, however, the University can make the policy applicable to our students.
One change is combining the rights of the complainant and the respondent into one document. “They’re both our students,” says Swantek, “and we need to treat both parties as equals. It is our duty to have a reliable and impartial process for all of our students”
Another change is making the section on sexual harassment more robust and including how “power” comes into play. “This could be when one student may be supervising another student in a work situation,” explained Swantek.
Additional changes include overhauling the reporting options, giving students the ability to report anonymously; giving amnesty for minor infractions when students come forward, and adding more resources for students.
The policy will take effect immediately.