Meeting of the Special Oversight Committee on Sexual Misconduct

December 6, 2012

Present were Sarah Barr, Director of Academic Engagement Programs, Center for Community Engagement; Professor Jack Cheney, Associate Dean of the Faculty; Suzanne Coffey, Director of Athletics and Title IX Coordinator; Professor Margaret Hunt (Chair); Marian Matheson, Director of Institutional Research and Planning (of counsel to the committee); Andrew Nussbaum ’85, trustee; Professor Marisa Parham; Dianne Piermattei, Assistant to the Secretary of the Board of Trustees (staff liaison to the committee); Susan Pikor, Chief of Staff, President’s Office, and Secretary of the Board of Trustees; Liya Rechtman ’14; Janet Tobin, Assistant Dean of the Faculty (recorder); and Robert Wasielewski ’14.  Attorneys Leslie Gomez and Gina Smith of the Philadelphia-based firm Ballard Spahr and trustee Paula Rauch ’77 participated by speaker phone. The meeting began at 5:00 p.m. and ended at 7:00 p.m.

The committee discussed the need to consider how the SMOC report should relate to reports that other committees and individuals are currently developing to address issues relating to sexual misconduct and violence, and to college structures and staffing that intersect with these areas.  The SMOC agreed that it would strive to stay within the parameters of its charge and to be conscious of “mission creep.”  The members discussed past committee reports that have had a significant impact on the college, and the qualities and approaches of these reports that the SMOC may want to emulate.  After reviewing the recommendations that emerged from conversations at previous SMOC meetings, the members discussed issues relating to campus life, including views on the sense of community at Amherst and peer institutions, and ways to build community at the college; the allocation of resources to support student activities; staffing in the area of student life; alcohol policies at Amherst and peer institutions; and topics surrounding clubs, teams, student government, and the history and role of fraternities at Amherst.  The members considered ways in which the lack of adequate spaces for social activities on campus may relate to issues of sexual misconduct and violence and discussed alternative spaces, structures, policies, and approaches that might enhance the quality of student life and help  build a more robust sense of community.