Meeting of the Special Oversight Committee on Sexual Misconduct

November 20, 2012

Present were Sarah Barr, Director of Academic Engagement Programs, Center for Community Engagement; Professor Jack Cheney, Associate Dean of the Faculty; Professor Margaret Hunt (Chair); Andrew Nussbaum ’85, Trustee; Professor Marisa Parham; Dianne Piermattei, Assistant to the Secretary of the Board of Trustees (staff liaison to the committee); and Janet Tobin, Assistant Dean of the Faculty (recorder). Attorney Rachael Keene; Marian Matheson, Director of Institutional Research and Planning (of counsel to the committee); Robert Wasielewski ’14; and Paula Rauch ’77, Trustee, participated by speaker phone. Suzanne Coffey, Liya Rechtman ’14, and Susan Pikor were absent. The meeting began at 5:00 p.m. and ended at 7:00 p.m.

The meeting focused on the Counseling Center’s structure and approach and ways to enhance its services and provide better support for survivors of sexual assault and misconduct. In advance of the meeting, the members had been provided with several reports on the Counseling Center.  In addition, the student petition on mental health services, which appeared in the Amherst Student on October 24, 2012, served as a source of information about recent concerns that have been raised about the Counseling Center by some students and alumni.

The committee felt that past studies have accurately identified issues of concern at the counseling center and have made a number of excellent recommendations.  The SMOC would like to gain a better sense of progress that has been made in implementing these recommendations. It was agreed that a goal should be to develop an over-arching, affirmative vision for the counseling center. The center should be seen as part of the fabric of college life for Amherst’s diverse community.  The rest of the meeting was given over to consideration of ways to achieve this vision.