July 24, 2020

Friday, Jul 24, 2020

University administrators have recently received emails related to the University’s implementation of new sexual misconduct policies based on new Title IX regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education.  We appreciate hearing from students, and value their strong interest in these very important issues.

We would like to share with you the process that has been undertaken with respect to the new University policies.  The new regulations were issued to all institutions of higher education by the Department of Education just this past May with the mandate that each college/university implement them by August – an approximately 100 day window in the midst of responding to a global pandemic.  During the notice and comment period prior to the issuance of the new regulations, the University worked with consortiums to request revisions to the proposed regulations, but many of the requested revisions were not implemented.  The new regulations contain very specific requirements with which the University is obligated to comply, and much of the language in the new University policies reflects these specific requirements.  Over the past month, we have been working with the Faculty Advisory Committee on Policy (which consists of faculty and administrators) and the Rights, Rules Committee (which consists of undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and staff) of the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC) to create and approve the new policies.  In the coming weeks, in accordance with the University’s governance process, the full faculty and the full CPUC (which consists of undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, staff and alumni) will decide whether to adopt the policies.  

We will be working with the CPUC’s Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Climate, Culture, and Conduct (which consists of undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, staff, and alumni) to share information with the campus community and answer questions in the fall.

While the Title IX and University Sexual Misconduct policies are currently in draft form, it is Princeton’s goal to meet its responsibilities in a manner that ensures compliance with the law while best fulfilling our commitments to safety, wellbeing, and fairness.  To that end, the draft policies seek to address some of the issues that students have raised, including:

  • If a party seeks to engage an attorney to serve as their adviser in the investigation/adjudication process, the University will provide certain financial resources to assist in that engagement.  
  • Parties who do not wish to participate in a formal disciplinary process may choose to participate in a voluntary informal resolution process.  
  • All of those involved in investigations and adjudications under the new policies will be required to participate in training related to intersectionality.

In addition, the following address concerns related to restorative practices, mental health resources, and training:

  • With respect to restorative practices, in the summer of 2019, the Faculty-Student Committee on Sexual Misconduct and the University Student Life Committee, meeting jointly, established a Working Group on Restorative Practices.  The working group, which included administrators, undergraduates, and graduate students, met during the fall 2019 semester and focused primarily on the applicability of restorative practices (trust building, conflict resolution and community dialogue, etc.) on our campus.  This Executive Summary provides a summary of the Working Group’s observations and recommendations regarding next steps with respect to implementing restorative practices at Princeton.  We will be moving forward this fall with virtual training of faculty, staff, and specific student leaders (e.g., RCAs) regarding restorative practices.
  • With respect to mental health, one of the concerns that has been raised is the diversity of the identities of mental health practitioners on our campus.  Please be advised that of the 24 clinicians employed by Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS), there are four Black clinicians, four Latinx clinicians, four Asian clinicians, and five clinicians who identify as LGBTQ.  In other words, 50% of the CPS staff identify as people of color. 
  • With respect to training, Vice President Calhoun and University administrators responsible for sexual misconduct training met with students to review current trainings and to discuss enhancements and additions that could be made.  We appreciate the suggestions and observations that students have brought to our attention during these conversations—many of which are closely aligned with current prevention planning efforts—and look forward to future discussions.  In addition, the Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising Resources and Education Office (SHARE) continues to work toward a comprehensive 4-year curriculum.  SHARE’s Community Report provides additional information regarding its staff, clinical services, prevention work, supportive services, and intersectional programs.

We appreciate students’ commitment to these complicated issues and we anticipate having further discussions with community members in the fall.