Letter to the Editor: Sexual Respect and Title IX
Issue   |   Mon, 10/30/2017 - 19:47

I am writing in response to the Oct. 25 article, “Sexual Respect on Campus Five Years After Angie Epifano’s Testimony.”

As Amherst’s Title IX Coordinator, I wish I had been asked to participate in the preparation of the article. Including basic information about Amherst’s current Title IX practices and policies, some of the inherent complexities of dealing with these issues for those involved and the options that exist might have provided a more meaningful context for the stories that were related. My greatest concern about the article is that these omissions may prevent survivors — perhaps ones in need of resources, support and services right now — from coming forward to ask for and obtain the assistance they need and are rightfully entitled to.

Survivors of sexual violence have intensely personal responses to their experiences and distinctly different needs moving forward. Some want to talk only to friends; others choose to report to the Title IX office; others will never tell anyone. Some desire accountability through on-campus processes and/or by working with law enforcement,
while others report anonymously on behalf of themselves or others. Some offer a great deal of information to our office; some, very little. One of our primary goals in the Title IX office is for survivors to have clarity regarding the choices they may make and the potential implications, so we try our best to ensure that their decisions are informed with transparent, accurate and complete information. In the end, our goal is to follow the wishes and respect the decisions that each person makes.

To do our work in an ethical and legal manner, however, we must also consider personal and community safety and, critically, equity for all persons. We recognize that this complex balance can be difficult for the community to understand and that some people may feel dissatisfied, perplexed or even angry by its results sometimes, but it is
necessary for the work we do.

If there is one message I would like our community to hear, it is this: any person who believes they have experienced sexual misconduct by a currently-enrolled Amherst student, as defined in Amherst’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, is entitled to initiate a complaint to adjudicate that concern under the college’s Sexual Misconduct Adjudication Process. If you or someone you care about has been so affected, the Title IX office is here for you. Resources, support and options are available to all people. We will listen to and seek to support you in the manner you choose. We are here to help.