Sexual Policy Outlined in Course Syllabi
Jene Thomas – General Assignment Reporter
Recent additions to the fall syllabi at Southern Connecticut State University have caused a stir around the campus. Before, a syllabus contained the professor’s office room and hours, class expectations, assignments, and exam dates.
Now, the administration demands a statement from the Sexual Assault Resource Team, complete with a synopsis of the program and contact numbers for team members. The statement reads as follows:
“Southern Connecticut State University is highly committed to providing you with an educational experience that is academically and socially enriching. In line with this mission, we enforce Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972 which prohibits acts of sexual misconduct (sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking) at educational institutions.” The University Police number, as well as numbers for S.A.R.T and the women’s center are listed.
Whether the statement should be included in the syllabi has been a campus wide debate. History professor at Southern, Troy Paddock, disagrees with the new addition to the syllabi.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to have this in academic policies,” said Paddock. He said he believes that there are better places for it. “They can make posters, put flyers out.”
Student Brittany Jarrett-Shepard agrees. When asked if she thinks the policy was necessary in a syllabus, she said, “I don’t think so. I mean maybe if it was a class pertaining to the body’s well being. It’d be better off posted at the health center.”
The main concern was having this statement in the wrong place. Would it make a difference on papers that students don’t necessarily read thoroughly? There are posters plastered all over bulletin boards on campus, but perhaps students need more. For Paddock, this wasn’t the only cause for objection.
“If the faculty had some conversation first, I’d rethink it,” he said. “I don’t like the administration telling me what to put in [the syllabus].” He felt as if it was too much for the students. He believes it could cause a panic and a sense of urgency. Perhaps even a trigger.
“If a young woman sees a sexual assault policy, what kind of message does that send?”
On the other hand, there are people that agree with the syllabi including the S.A.R.T statement.
“It’s always good to know what’s out there,” said Bina Walker, women’s studies graduate assistant. “The numbers can be helpful because it’s hard to go up to someone.” Despite objections by Paddock and Jarrett-Shepard, there are people who believe the syllabus statement is helpful. “It couldn’t hurt,” Walker said.
S.A.R.T is a campus organization of team members, with ties to on campus and off campus sites, that provides “counseling, medical attention, judicial services, advocacy, law enforcement, referrals, and general information regarding sexual misconduct and if necessary, medical help, to victims of sexual assault,” as the statement said. They are set up in the Women Center, located on the first floor of Schwartz hall.
The new initiative isn’t only being enforced through the syllabi. That just happens to be the most problematic.
Catherine Christy, S.A.R.T coordinator, hosted a seminar Aug. 22 on sexual assault. The seminar was for new and returning Southern employees on the protocols on handling victims who admit to be sexually assaulted. Though there is still some debate, the understanding and purpose is clear.
Christy wants the campus to be aware, whether that means having resources in several buildings, hosting seminars or reading about it on a syllabus. Post about it anywhere and everywhere.
Despite complaints, the plan seems to be working. People know about the policy. Posters and flyers are in every building. Without reading the message boards, students and faculty are still subject to it via syllabi.