In the three months since former US attorney Mary Jo White released the results of her independent investigation, the University has made significant progress on each of the report’s specific recommendations and has also chosen to broaden its response to address a more comprehensive set of issues related to diversity, respect, and inclusion. In many cases the University’s response will go well beyond the recommendations made in the White Report.
This report reflects the current status of the University’s activities, and reflects work of the trustees’ White Report Oversight Committee, the newly established University Diversity and Equity Council, the Faculty Senate and its committees, the Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia, the Students’ Association Task Force to Review Sexual Misconduct Policy, and many others. For continuing updates, please visit www.rochester.edu/respect.
White Report Recommendations
Notice of Investigative Process and Rights
By April 10, 2018, the University will have posted newly created guides for students and faculty/staff. Each document will have informational sections for complainants, witnesses, and respondents.
With the initial guides we will have met the April 10th deadline established by the White Report, but we will continue to expand the resources available. The University has engaged the services of a graphic designer to create a visual representation of the process and will have more extensive, permanent versions ready for use by June 1, 2018.
Advisors for Claimants and Accused
In February, the University identified two advisors to assist claimants, potential claimants, or an accused in matters involving claims of sexual harassment by a faculty member, thus meeting the April 10th deadline established in the White Report. We also identified HR Business partners as resources, particularly for staff.
The University plans to have advisors available for claimants, potential claimants, and accused in matters involving claims of sexual harassment by anyone, including students, faculty, and staff. We will continue to expand the list of advisors available. We have also begun to assemble a working group to create a University-wide Ombuds program that will provide informal assistance in resolving disputes in an impartial and objective manner.
The University has undertaken a comprehensive review of our mandatory training programs for sex-based harassment, discrimination, and unconscious bias, meeting the April 10th deadline laid out in the White Report. A team of leaders from human resources is working with stakeholders to customize a set of training modules that will be launched in the fall. The team is also working on identifying experiential learning opportunities to supplement the online modules.
A working group has been assembled to review the training approach for faculty and to develop recommendations about how we communicate regarding the training, its importance and its content. The group will make their recommendations to the president by May 1, 2018.
UR Policy 106
The Office of Counsel has conducted benchmarking and is developing a set of FAQs to provide the information identified by the White Report recommendation: acts that constitute sexual harassment, the kinds of disciplinary and remedial actions taken, and actions taken in response to misconduct that does not amount to sexual harassment. This document will be ready shortly and will be posted online.
In addition to meeting the specific recommendation, the University is undertaking a larger review of Policy 106. To begin this process, associate vice president for human resources Tony Kinslow has assembled a committee made up of staff, students, and faculty to review proposed revisions to the policy. The first meeting of the committee is scheduled for April 12, 2018.
The University has retained as outside counsel the firm Littler Mendelson P.C. to research, gather information, and advise on new procedures regarding confidentiality of investigations of claims of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct by faculty members. We expect to receive an advice memorandum later this month. We are confident that we can complete this recommendation by July 10, 2018, thereby meeting the Report’s deadline.
Publicize Annual Data on Harassment Complaints
The University has assembled a working group to review the Yale and Cornell models identified in the White Report and to develop recommendations to inform our approach to sexual misconduct reporting. The group will make their recommendations to the president by May 1, 2018.
In addition to sexual misconduct reporting, we plan to develop a common mechanism to report and track bias-related incidents on campus as part of our efforts to strengthen our culture of respect. We have convened a working group to make recommendations about expanding the College’s Bias-Related Incident Reporting system across the University. This working group will make its recommendations to the president by May 1, 2018. We will be well situated to meet the January 2019 deadline established in the White Report.
Information Technology Policy
The Faculty Senate working group published a set of recommendations in their report to the University community on March 21, 2018. The report is being reviewed by the Information Technology Policy Committee, which will draft an updated policy based on the report. In accordance with the Policy on Policy-Making, any revisions would be reviewed by the Policy Approval Committee (General Counsel, the Chief Financial Officer and the Provost). The report and any proposals will also be shared with the White Report Oversight Committee (WROC) of the Board of Trustees. The Policy Approval Committee refers policies with potential for significant impact on the University to the President for approval, and the President may refer a proposed policy to the Board of Trustees for adoption. The collaborative process required to establish an effective policy for the entire University takes time and we will not meet the April 10th deadline identified in the White Report, but significant progress has been made.
Access to Policies, Procedures and Resources
We have created “Rochester’s Culture of Respect” website (www.rochester.edu/respect) within which we have started to aggregate a list of available resources. We will continue to work on improving the clarity and access to information. No deadline was given for this recommendation in the White Report. This is likely to be an ongoing process.
UR Intimate Relationships Policy
A committee including representatives from the Faculty Senate, the Graduate Student Association, and the Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia has drafted a revision to the current policy, which will be further updated based on the March 20, 2018 Faculty Senate meeting and forums held on April 2, 2018 and April 4, 2018. Once approved by the Faculty Senate, in accordance with the Policy on Policy Making, the revised policy will be reviewed by the Policy Approval Committee (General Counsel, Chief Financial Officer, and the Provost). The policy will also be shared with the White Report Oversight Committee of the Board of Trustees. Changes to the Faculty Handbook are ultimately approved by the Board of Trustees. Although a revised policy will not be in place by the April 10th deadline identified in the White Report, significant progress has been made.
Dedicated Office to Investigate Sexual Harassment or Misconduct by Faculty Members
The University has hired a consultant, DeEtta Jones, to assist in the design of an office that will house this function, as well as other components of our programs designed make the University more welcoming and inclusive. We expect the consultant’s report by June 1, 2018 and hope to have the office established in the spring semester of 2019. The White Report called for a report on the consideration of this issue by April 10th. It is taking more time to complete this recommendation because it has been incorporated into the much larger effort to design an office with a far more comprehensive and complex set of responsibilities.
Cabinet-Level Officer to Oversee Implementation
The Board of Trustees asked President Feldman to oversee the implementation of the report recommendations and he will continue to in that role. He has appointed Emily Cihon Fehnel as his deputy to coordinate the University’s response. The White Report listed this as an immediate deadline (as of January 11, 2018). President Feldman is playing this role currently, and we have hired DeEtta Jones to assist in the creation of a new Chief Diversity Officer position that will coordinate University-level diversity efforts moving forward. We expect delivery of the draft position by June 7, 2018, and expect to begin the search to fill the role in the summer of 2018.
Trustee or Special Committee to Oversee Implementation
In mid-February, trustee Lance Drummond announced the creation of the Board of Trustee’s ad hoc White Report Oversight Committee to offer guidance on structural and cultural transformation initiatives. Members of the committee include Nomi Bergman, Chris Boehning, Barbara Burger, Kathy Murray, and Tom Richards. The group will meet monthly through December 2019, however, it could either be dissolved earlier or extended with support from the Board of Trustees and Board chair. The White Report placed an immediate deadline on this recommendation, which has been met.
University Vision and Values Statement
A faculty, student, and staff subcommittee drafted a revised Vision Statement for the University that that includes a new section expressing the University’s core values. The draft was shared broadly with the University community. Feedback from the community was collected and used in the creation of a revised draft, which will be made available shortly.
The values expressed in the Vision and Values Statement will help guide revisions in University policies in ways that make it clear that the University does not condone behavior that fails to adhere to our mutually understood values.
University-wide Ombuds Program
A working group is being convened to develop a proposal and to identify what is needed to establish this program, including the resource requirement, membership, training and charge. Ombuds typically serve as a designated neutral resource to provide informal assistance for resolving disputes. An ombudsperson could be a comfortable and supportive first step, available and trusted, to be able to deal with cases that require treatment beyond individual interactions.