After nine months reviewing the college’s sexual misconduct policies, Margolis Healy and Associates (MHA) completed a final report of its recommendations for making the campus safer and ensuring compliance with Title IX, the Clery Act and the Campus SAVE Act. The report recommends that the college take additional steps to improve its response systems, communicate more clearly with the campus, further training programs, and develop values that “create a culture of respect and accountability.” It also recommends that the college complete a final, updated sexual misconduct policy by the end of this coming summer.
The college first hired Margolis Healy, a law firm that provides schools with strategies for improving campus safety, after last spring’s turbulent semester, during which students levied heavy criticisms against the college’s handling of sexual misconduct. The final report marks the end of Margolis Healy’s involvement with the college and expands upon the set of interim recommendations the firm released in July.
MHA recommends that the college develop an education program to provide information on sexual misconduct prevention. In particular, they call on the school to make sure first responders and investigators receive regular training and that all trainings are reviewed by the Title IX coordinator.
In addition, MHA emphasizes the need for the college to ensure compliance with the March 2013 Campus SAVE Act, which amends and complements the Clery Act and Title IX. Schools are required to make a good faith effort to comply with the law by March 2014.
The report makes repeated mention of the role of alcohol consumption in sexual misconduct, suggesting that the school should “examine the social environment and in particular the events that the college identifies as posing a high risk for excessive alcohol consumption and other dangerous behaviors.”
According to administrators, none of the report was prescreened by outside attorneys, including the school’s general counsel law firm, and the report makes no recommendations about specific personnel changes.
Overall, Margolis Healy praises the school for its response to concerns and controversy. “The Swarthmore College community, including the administration and students, has embraced this opportunity to consider its culture, and how community values can impact issues related to sexual and gender violence,” the report says.
Indeed, MHA asserts that the college has improved its response to sexual misconduct since the Department of Education last put out regulations on following Title IX. “In our professional opinion, the college has taken progressively meaningful and impactful steps to foster a culture free from sexual misconduct since the Department of Education (ED) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued its Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) in April 2011,” the firm writes.