Northwestern, ASG seek student feedback on changes to sexual misconduct policy


Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

The Sexual Harassment Prevention Office at 1800 Sherman Ave. Associated Student Government created a survey to collect student feedback on Northwestern’s newly updated sexual misconduct policy.

Gabby Birenbaum, Reporter

In response to recent changes in Northwestern’s sexual misconduct policy, Associated Student Government are asking students to give their feedback.

ASG created the survey in response to a Dec. 7 memo from Dwight Hamilton, the associate vice president for equity and Title IX coordinator, which asked for comments from students, faculty and staff on the new policy.

Changes to the policy include making the definition of stalking consistent with Illinois law and revising the definitions of dating and domestic violence. The current policy defines dating or domestic violence as “so severe, pervasive or persistent as to significantly interfere with an individual’s ability to learn and/or work or cause substantial emotional distress.”

In addition, the new policy explains the complaint evaluation process and amends the section about retaliation to maintain consistency with the new non-retaliation policy.

The University updated the policy because it was due for review, Hamilton told the Daily in an email, and also to reflect the new standards required by the Illinois Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act.

ASG President Nehaarika Mulukutla said she is encouraged that the administration is seeking student input.

“It’s important that students have the chance to sit at the table and be involved in the policy that adjudicates our campus with regard to sexual assault and sexual misconduct,” Mulukutla told the Daily. “Especially given the recent events on campus that have put it in such high focus.”

Typically, the administration allows 45 days for reviews of university policies, but Hamilton said the period was extended to 60 days to account for Winter Break. Students can suggest revisions through Feb. 5, according to the memo.

After the review period, administrators will review the feedback and incorporate any pertinent changes, Hamilton said in the email. The new policy will be finalized in early summer for publication and training materials to be up-to-date for the 2018-2019 school year.

The likelihood that a student-proposed revision ends up in the policy “depends on the feedback,” Hamilton wrote.

“We can’t incorporate a proposed revision that is contrary to federal or state law,” Hamilton wrote. “But, we certainly want the policy to reflect the needs of the Northwestern community.”

Mulukutla said any student who comes across the survey should fill it out. By creating a survey, she said she thinks ASG can help Hamilton’s request for feedback reach more people.

She added that she is deciding on potential revisions to propose and promote through ASG. Mulukutla said she will meet with Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators to discuss specific revisions, and hopes conversations with SHAPE can ensure that any ASG proposal both promotes safety and protects survivors.

“It’s one thing to get as much student output as possible,” Mulukutla said. “It’s another thing to also use our student voice to push for the most responsible manner of dealing with sexual assault and sexual violence on this campus.”

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