CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) — Dickinson College officials have agreed to make changes to their sexual misconduct policy following a dayslong protest by students who staged a sit-in Monday and never left.
Students demanded changes to how Title IX cases are handled for on-campus assaults, which the school accommodated on Thursday by signing an agreement with students.
“I think this is the biggest accomplishment I’ve ever had in my life and I’m so, so happy,” Rose McAvoy said. “I couldn’t live with myself if I left and I didn’t fix this.
“I felt like I was in a position where I could fix this, and I wanted to,” she said.
McAvoy was assaulted on campus by another student in October 2017 and said her Title IX investigation lasted 209 days.
“That process was really awful,” McAvoy said. “It’s literally all you can think about every single day because you have to continue to live on campus with your attacker, having it drag on for long periods of time. And there would be long periods of time when they wouldn’t even tell me what was going on and I couldn’t get any answers. Anyone who starts the Title IX process after February 17 is going to have so much better of a process, and I’m so happy about that.”
That’s because as part of the agreement, Dickinson has agreed to try and complete Title IX cases in 60 days and give students weekly updates on their case’s progress, if they want one. The school will also let students keep transcripts of interviews throughout the process, something they didn’t allow before.
“Because I was never allowed to have the full transcript, I couldn’t question how they [the school] were presenting my story,” McAvoy said. “My attacker then came back and said ‘hey, she’s changing her story.’ And I didn’t change my story. Dickinson changed my story. And now they can’t do that to anyone ever again. I am really happy that the process will now only last 60 calendar days as a standard.”
Other students were in the room when the agreement was signed and said they helped to make the conditions more inclusive.
“I think we did a great job of bringing everyone together and making sure the demands were specific to the needs of specific marginalized groups,” Dickinson junior Kenyana Savage said. “If you’re not very vocal about the needs of the marginalized communities, many times those needs go unheard. It was extremely important to make sure that everyone was getting represented at the table and that everyone had their needs heard, and met, at least.”
Savage said they advocated for the LGBTQ, disabled and Hispanic populations on campus, who may have different needs when it comes to sexual assault cases or misconduct.
“Marginalized groups are generally very vulnerable to things such as sexual assault and rape,” said senior, Kaliph Brown.
School officials said the agreement makes their campus better and safer.
“I want to thank Rose and her fellow students, for their conviction and their courage,” provost Neil Weissman said. “I also want to thank them for working so effectively with us to implement those proposals.”
McAvoy’s attacker was found responsible and given probation. Some changes will take effect Feb. 17, and others, like amending their sexual harassment reporting process, will take effect May 1. Even more changes will take effect in July 2021.
The full document containing Dickinson College’s changes and timeline can be found here.