CAU Title IX Statement from President George T. French, Jr., Ph.D.
Dear Clark Atlanta University Students and Parents,
We have received emails from CAU students and parents expressing concerns about the status of the University’s policies, procedures, and practices on responding to reports and complaints of sexual misconduct made by CAU students and others.
We take this moment to write to assure you that your concerns have been heard and are not taken lightly. Again, we hear you and respect your positions.
Our highest priority is fostering a welcoming and inclusive campus environment for our students. To that end, Clark Atlanta University takes reports and complaints of sexual misconduct and assault very seriously. When an investigation and subsequent hearing determine that sexual misconduct has occurred, we impose punishments up to and including expulsion. We also act, to the greatest extent possible, to protect victims throughout the process and cooperate fully with appropriate law enforcement authorities in any parallel criminal investigation. The entire CAU community has a shared responsibility to create an environment where sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, is unacceptable.
To that end, as part of our ongoing commitment to policy and procedural improvements, I am pleased to share with you the measures already underway by the University and honestly enhanced given the concerns, which you have addressed.
TITLE IX PRELIMINARY INITIATIVES
Code of Student Conduct Improvements.
The safety and well-being of our campus community is our top priority. In May 2020, the University retained an external subject matter expert to work with a team of University officials to ensure its policies and procedures aligned with recent changes made by the U.S. Department of Education to federal regulations that govern how a college or university must respond to reports of sex and gender-based discrimination, including sexual misconduct and assault.
The expert, in collaboration with the University’s Dean of Student Services and Campus Life, Title IX Coordinator, and the General Counsel, recommended appropriate changes to the section of the University’s Code of Student Conduct that governs how the University will address reports and complaints of sexual misconduct. Where allowed, these new policies and procedures will include elements of the positive and welcoming culture and climate the University is committed to fostering.
Robust Campus-Wide Title IX Education and Training.
With your concerns at the forefront, in the coming months, the University will implement a robust education and training program designed to educate students on Title IX investigations and procedures, bystander intervention, elements of due process rights in a hearing, definitions of “consent” and “sexual misconduct” and resources available to students who survived incidents of sexual misconduct and assault.
Title IX Office Reorganization.
To improve the efficiency with which Title IX complaints are handled and in alignment with newly issued federal regulations, the University will reorganize the Title IX Office, effective Fall 2020. This means that the duties historically imposed on a single person -- the Title IX Coordinator -- will be separated out to ensure further independence in the investigation and hearing processes. More specifically, students should expect to encounter trained individuals, in addition to the Title IX Coordinator, in the following capacities: Independent Investigators, Informal Resolution Facilitators, Advisors, Decision Makers, and Appeal Decision Makers. Education on the specific duties assigned to these roles will be provided in the fall under a separate communication.
These preliminary steps toward complete Title IX reform at CAU are only the beginning. As we make strides on making these improvements, we are committed to involving various campus stakeholders, including CAU students who have contacted University officials directly, in the conversations. Therefore, we anticipate implementing much more expansive and robust initiatives based on the feedback we receive from YOU – Panther Nation. We want to ensure your voices are heard, your ideas are implemented in line with federal laws and regulations, and that you continue to take pride in our shared responsibility to continue making CAU, “One Exceptional University.”
Sincerely,Dr. George T. French, Jr., Ph.D.