Princeton University officials issue statement about sexual assault policies and Title IX procedures

Princeton University officials said Wednesday afternoon that they will refer concerns raised by students about the rights of sexual assault victims and the Title IX process to university committees for review, that they have confidence that investigations into sexual misconduct are fair, and that students are penalized appropriately when they violate policies.

The school issued a general statement about students’ demands for Title IX reform just before 3:30 p.m., but did not address all of the demands made by students in detail, except to say that the demand by students that a university administrator be fired is inappropriate. Students began a sit-in on the green in front of Nassau Hall at about 10 a.m. on Tuesday, and held a rally late Tuesday afternoon as student leaders of the group presented their list of demands to administrators.

“Princeton University is committed to ensuring that all of its community members can learn, work and thrive in a safe, supportive and fair environment, free from sexual misconduct and all forms of discrimination,” reads the university statement. “Sexual misconduct can have devastating effects on the health and well-being of members of our community — it has no place on our campus. The university supports students during Title IX investigations and throughout their time at Princeton. We have full confidence that the campus administrators engaged in this important work investigate complaints diligently, fairly and impartially, and assign appropriate penalties when the evidence establishes violations of our policies.”

Officials said university administrators strive to ensure that every member of the community has access to resources, and that there is no confusion about policies, practices and obligations under Title IX. The school provides the community with information regarding policies and procedures through Princeton’s sexual misconduct and Title IX website, as well as information on confidential resources that are available to assist people in accessing support services or learning about their options, officials said. “Princeton University is committed to sharing this information proactively and we conduct extensive training on sexual misconduct policies, procedures and resources,” reads the statement from the university.

“Yesterday, May 7, students began a peaceful protest outside Nassau Hall around the Title IX process on our campus. That afternoon, several students gave to Vice President for Campus Life W. Rochelle Calhoun a document outlining their concerns,” reads the statement. “Princeton University takes seriously its mission to support the free expression of all views, and we support and defend the right of students to participate in peaceful protest activities such as the sit-in outside Nassau Hall. The administration has carefully reviewed the students’ document.”

School officials said the university respects and appreciates student input on how sexual misconduct is handled. A faculty-student committee on sexual misconduct includes student representatives, and regularly meets to address issues and concerns, according to the statement.  A university student life committee, which also includes student members, engages on a range of issues relevant to improving the student experience, officials said.

“Consistent with our ongoing practice of taking student input into account, we are referring the concerns raised to the appropriate university committees. That said, unfounded calls for the termination of university employees are inappropriate and will not be considered further,” reads the statement. “We value and appreciate the students’ voices on these important issues. We are committed to ensuring the university is doing all it can to address sexual misconduct on campus, and we will continue to work with the community to meet that goal.”

On Tuesday, students held a rally and sit-in to support survivors of sexual assault on campus and call on the school administration to fix a Title IX process they say is broken.

Students called for more transparency about Title IX procedures at university, and said the current system sometimes places blame on victims and protects varsity athletes and wealthy students who are accused of sexual assault. Students also demanded an external review of the university’s Title IX process, and called for the firing of one administrator who handles Title IX matters at the school and the review of another top-level administrator. They demanded that the university provide a document to all students, faculty and staff that outlines every step of the Title IX process, and asked for full access to statistics detailing the racial and socioeconomic makeup of both alleged and convicted perpetrators. The group also called on the school to hire social workers to help students navigate the Title IX system, to create a fund for sexual assault victims who need mental health services, to hire an international coordinator to support students who are assaulted while studying abroad, and to make Title IX and sexual assault training mandatory for all university hires and student leaders.

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