Over the summer, Wesleyan made substantial changes to its Sexual Misconduct policies. While the administration has directed attention to certain major changes (e.g. the addition of an ombudsman, the elimination of hearings), the seemingly smaller changes to investigative procedures will prove to be equally impactful to the affected parties. Indeed, “the devil is in the details” has perhaps never been more appropriate, as the details of Wesleyan’s new investigative procedures should cause deep concern to the entire Wesleyan community.

A few major provisions in the new investigative procedures deserve attention. First, in lieu of a hearing, an investigator will create a written report to be reviewed by a panel. Alarmingly, part of the investigator’s report will contain “a separate section describing the Investigator’s assessment of the credibility of [the] parties.” In other words, Wesleyan is forcing survivors of sexual violence to read whether the investigator found their story credible.

Of course, credibility assessment is important when determining whether a responding party is responsible for committing a violation. However, there are already ways of assessing credibility in Wesleyan’s procedures that do not involve traumatizing survivors. For instance, the report will also contain a section identifying “relevant consistencies and inconsistencies” in survivors’ statements. Is this not effectively the same thing as credibility? Additionally, the panel is perfectly capable of sifting through facts to determine credibility. Dean Culliton himself has previously stated that the panel’s role is to “look at word on word credibility assessment.” If the investigator is both collecting facts and evaluating them, then the panel is nothing more than a rubber stamp. It is entirely unnecessary for a supposedly objective investigator to make a completely subjective credibility assessment, and will only serve to traumatize students and ultimately discourage complaints.

Another alarming provision involving the report is Section III-B, which states that parties can only “review” the investigative report and cannot take photographs or make copies.

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    Second half of letter, which was accidentally not published:

    If survivors want a copy of the final report to keep in their records or discuss with parents or a therapist, they are out of luck. If parties would prefer to read the report alone, they are also out of luck. After promising to be more transparent and accountable, the Wesleyan administration has decided to be less of both by denying parties a copy of what could be the most impactful and traumatic document they read during their time at Wesleyan. The administration’s motivation seems clear: by withholding the reports, it will be much more difficult for survivors and respondents alike to threaten legal action or file OCR complaints. In other words, the administration has actually made it more difficult for students to hold them accountable.

    Is anyone surprised?

    The Wesleyan community should be sickened. The administration has tried to give as much power as possible to the “Investigator” at the expense of the parties involved, and apparently thinks that survivors of sexual violence do not deserve a copy of the investigator’s report.

    While space limitations prevent analysis of every new policy, several more are equally alarming. Read them carefully; it appears that every word has been carefully crafted to minimize Wesleyan’s legal exposure. Once again, Wesleyan’s administration has prioritized its own interests over the well being of its students.

    Don’t let the ombudsman fool you.