Update – September 12, 2018
Mount Holyoke College has received and acted upon the final report findings of three Title IX investigations conducted by independent investigators. The investigations involved allegations of inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature during the 1980s. In any instance where findings of fact determined that College policies were violated, appropriate sanctions have been imposed, and disciplinary actions have been taken.
The challenges of investigating events alleged to have occurred over 30 years ago are significant. And despite our necessary focus on present and future policy, events of the past are of tremendous significance to the College. We appreciate the bravery of the individuals who have come forward with allegations from the past. It is these reports, in concert with the collective actions of the individuals investigating the allegations, that enable us to address the College’s need for clearer policies, procedures and training.
Mount Holyoke holds itself responsible for ensuring that the policies and procedures of today are designed to address — and prevent — future instances of harassment and sexual misconduct. The College strives to create and maintain a safe and inclusive environment where any form of sexual misconduct will not occur, and will not be tolerated.
In order to ensure that every individual on campus enjoys a safe environment and is protected from sexual and gender-based harassment, assault and violence, the College has made a number of significant changes. The following actions have been taken since October 2017:
- The College has hired a dedicated, full-time Title IX/504 coordinator — this is the first time this position has been full time.
- The College has hired its first full-time vice president for diversity and inclusion to oversee the work of the Title IX/504 office, among other responsibilities.
- Following a thorough review of all policies related to reporting and grievances, the College has updated the Student Handbook, Faculty Legislation and other print materials to make certain that policies and resources reflect the College’s priorities, and that these resources are readily accessible to the entire community.
- We have increased education for faculty, staff and students — through mandatory online and in-person training — regarding Title IX reporting, regulations and related College policies.
- The College has approved a policy that explicitly affirms a blanket prohibition of all student-faculty relationships.
- As of September 2018, the College and Human Resources completed a similar policy that prohibits all student-staff relationships.
- The College is in the process of developing a formal policy for addressing historical complaints.
We will provide updates to this page as information becomes available and will continue to review our policies and practices.
Update and FAQs – November 1, 2017
As Acting President Stephens stated on Monday, October 23, in her letter to the entire College Community, Mount Holyoke takes very seriously the safety and well-being of our students, and is committed to upholding all policies against discrimination, and to investigating promptly any allegation of discrimination, including sexual harassment or misconduct.
Last week the College engaged an independent external investigator to pursue allegations dating from the 1980s and 1990s. The independent review will take time and once it is concluded we will share what we are legally able to with the community.
We continue to work to ensure that Mount Holyoke’s policies against harassment and discrimination are being enforced. If you have questions or concerns you wish to raise, please contact Shannon DaSilva at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What prompted the October #MeToo letter?
The #MeToo campaign has sparked conversations nationally, including among some of our alumnae. We felt it important to acknowledge these conversations and take a strong position as a women’s college to raise our voice in a movement that speaks out against any form of sexual misconduct. We wanted to make our position clear to all of our constituents and to reiterate that our policies prohibit gender and sex-based discrimination of any kind, including sexual misconduct.
Who received the October letter?
The letter was sent to all faculty, staff, students and alumnae.
Why was the October letter sent?
Millions of individuals, most of them women and including some of our alumnae, have spoken out on this topic in the past week, and we felt it important express our support for those who have been empowered to share their stories.
Does MHC have policies on sexual misconduct?
Yes, Mount Holyoke is required under Title IX, a federal civil rights law, to prevent and address sexual discrimination, which includes gender-based and sexual misconduct against students, faculty and staff whether perpetrated by peers or by employees of the institution. In fact, we recently reiterated our commitment to uphold these values in light of federal efforts to rescind some regulations regarding campus sexual misconduct. Sexual violence and harassment disproportionately affect women and gender minorities, and our policies offer protections, rights, and processes by which we stand. The College offers guidelines covering procedures for faculty, staff and students to pursue a complaint. If you have a question, concern or complaint related to gender-based or sexual discrimination or misconduct, please contact Title IX Coordinator Shannon Da Silva at email@example.com.
What services does MHC offer current students?
Since 2014, the College has mandated Title IX training for all incoming students (through participation in Campus Clarity), and also requires CA/SCAs to participate in the training yearly. In addition, incoming students attend two related workshops during Orientation on consent, how to report sexual assault and their rights and responsibilities as it relates to the student handbook and the law. The College also offers on-campus counseling services as well as a 24/7 care and support line for emergencies.