ASG survey seeks feedback on Title IX reporting process

Claire Hansen, Reporter

Associated Student Government released a survey March 31 to gather student feedback on the sexual misconduct complaint resolution process.

ASG President Christina Cilento said the responses will be incorporated in a report to administrators to provide recommendations to change the reporting process. The survey — conceived by Macs Vinson, ASG executive vice president — was launched one day after the University announced it would not take disciplinary action against Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and another, unnamed fraternity after reports of alleged druggings and sexual assaults at the two houses.

ASG included the survey in a statement condemning the University’s decision, and also sent the link in Thursday’s Campus Loop newsletter.

Cilento, a SESP senior, said the survey and future report are not direct responses to the University’s decision. During and after the University’s investigation, she said, students felt prompted to share their stories and frustrations about the reporting process with ASG members.

“We wanted to make sure that students felt like those frustrations had been heard,” Cilento said. “It can be really difficult to go to someone with the University and say, ‘Hey, I’ve already had this incredibly difficult experience with a sexual assault, and the people who were supposed to help me with it didn’t do what I perceived to be the (right) job.’”

The anonymous survey asks students “who have had experience with Title IX, the Sexual (Harassment) Prevention Office, CARE, or Student Conduct related to a sexual misconduct” about their experiences and how the reporting process can be improved.

Joan Slavin, Title IX coordinator and director of the Sexual Harassment Prevention Office, said she looks forward to reading the survey responses and the report.

“Our office encourages feedback from students on how the sexual misconduct complaint resolution process could be improved, and we will carefully consider any recommendations that ASG provides to us,” Slavin told The Daily in an email.

Colin Clayton, who is the communications chair for Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators, said the ASG survey is a positive step in addressing issues related to Title IX reporting and sexual assault.

Clayton, a Weinberg junior, said survivors’ stories can get the University’s attention.

“Really having that survivor-centered way of addressing the administration is the most powerful because it really puts the emphasis (on the fact that) that this affects Northwestern students and something needs to be done about it,” Clayton said.

Cilento said student feedback could be a crucial component of the report that ASG will present to the administration, but ASG will create the report regardless of how many people respond to the survey.

ASG respects that it can be traumatic for survivors to share their stories, Cilento said, and will not “push” the survey if it does not gather many responses.

“I would love if the report would be mainly based on the responses we’ve received because the administration really loves to have concrete experiences and data to back up the things that we are recommending,” Cilento said. “Multiple narratives will allow us to do that and allow us to see trends.”

Weinberg junior Nehaarika Mulukutla, who is running uncontested for ASG president, said she would help complete the report if that’s what Cilento and Vinson wanted. Mulukutla and her running mate, Weinberg junior Rosalie Gambrah, wrote an open letter to vice president for student affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin regarding the University’s handling of sexual misconduct cases. The letter has garnered more than 200 signatures, and Mulukutla said she has set up a meeting with Telles-Irvin.

Mulukutla said she anticipates the meeting with Telles-Irvin to be “all-encompassing.”

“Support for survivors looks like making the Title IX process (a) more welcoming and less hostile environment that doesn’t add to the trauma that survivors experience,” Mulukutla said.

This story was updated to clarify Colin Clayton’s position on SHAPE’s communications committee.

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Twitter: @clairechansen