Sexual Assault Oversight Committee
In response the recommendations from the 2005 Sexual Assault Working Group, and the 2007-08 Task Force on the Status of Women, in 2008 Middlebury created the Sexual Assault Oversight Committee (SAOC). This page provides information about the scope of the SAOC's work, and its membership.
The SAOC selects four new student members each year, and is lead by a student and staff co-chair team. However, it has been the tradition of the SAOC since its inception to welcome all members of the community who wish to attend our meetings and join our work, and many students who are not "official" members have played critical roles in leading and contributing to our efforts over the years.
In 2013-14, we anticipate that our agenda will include:
- Supporting the launch of the Sexual Assault Advocates program
- Exploring opportunities for partnership with student leaders in the athletics community
- Supporting the development of "sex positive" student-led workshops, activities, and potentially the creation of a student organization to offer leadership in this area
- Developing short- and long-term workshops for students on supporting survivors of sexual trauma
- Advancing creative ways to cultivate men's leadership in the campus movement to prevent sexual assault
- Working with the SGA to institute an annual student review of the Sexual Misconduct policy
- Developing a stronger presence of student leadership on sexual assault education in the residence halls.
All members of the community are warmly invited to join our meetings (held on the second Friday of each month from 2:00-3:15 p.m.) and our work. Please contact Associate Dean Karen Guttentag for more information.
Since its launch in January of 2009, the SAOC has worked on the following projects:
1. Sexual misconduct policy. We created a new Sexual Misconduct policy to provide clearer definitions; expand the categories of prohibited behavior; remove the in-person board hearing from the process; shift to a professional external investigator; and encourage reporting. This policy was introduced in Fall 2011.
2. Advocacy program. We are developing a program by which a small team of specially trained students, faculty and staff will serve as confidential campus advocates for students who have experienced sexual trauma, and the friends who support them. This program is on track for introduction in the fall of 2013, and 14 student advocates and several staff and faculty members have been selected to serve in this capacity.
3. Survey of resources. In the spring of 2009, we surveyed the campus to learn which of Middlebury's sexual assault resources students had used; whether they had been effective; and what additional resources they would like. Almost 500 students responded to the electronic survey, and many others shared feedback through focus groups. Key findings included:
- Most students did not seek help from trained and established resources, such as the counseling or medical staffs, or WomenSafe, but consulted with friends. This underscores the importance of educating all Middlebury students about sexual assault, as they are likely to be called upon to support each other.
- Students were interested in the development of an advocacy program by which a small group of trained individuals could serve as resources to support sexual assault survivors in emergency and non-crisis situations.
- Students strongly preferred having access to sexual assault policy, prevention, and resource information through a Web site than through a printed resource.
4. Web site development. We designed and launched this Web site.
5. Prevention research. We have reviewed research on the prevalence and characteristics of campus sexual assault, and the most promising initiatives in its prevention. These appear to be grouped in the areas of bystander intervention, and social norms education. This clearly represents the next frontier of the SAOC's work.
6. Visibility Campaign. We led an all-campus "Stand Up Against Sexual Assault" poster campaign, and will be distributing these posters around campus in permanent and semi-permanent capacity throughout the 2013-14 year.
7. Violence Against Women Act Campus Grant. We contributed to the development and submission of a grant application for $272,000 for sexual assault education, prevention and response resources. Awards will be announced in September 2013.
The SAOC's membership is structured to ensure that those offices and individuals most involved in sexual assault work are represented and are coordinating their efforts, and to ensure that other members of the community invested in this issue can contribute to that work.
SAOC members are responsible for evaluating the needs of the campus, identifying the agenda for the year, and serving as liaisons to their respective constituencies to invite broader participation in those initiatives as appropriate.
- Director of Health and Wellness Education (co-chair)
- Judicial Affairs Officer
- Liaison from Parton Health and Counseling Center
- Director of Chellis House
- VP of the Language Schools or designee
- Commons Dean
- Human Relations Officer
- Two faculty members, one of whom must be a member of the coaching faculty
- Five student members, including one student co-chair
Student members of the SAOC are selected each spring through a campus-wide application process, and faculty members are appointed to two-year terms by the president.
2012-13 SAOC Members
- Bree Baccaglini '15
- Scott Barnicle (Commons dean)
- Dave Campbell (faculty member/coach)
- Olivia Case '15
- Karen Guttentag (Judicial Affairs Officer)
- Chong-Suk Han (faculty member)
- Karin Hanta (Director of Chellis House)
- Emily Pedowitz '13
- David (Fritz) Parker '15
- Beth Karnes Keefe (Language Schools designee)
- Sue Ritter (Human Relations Officer)
- Nancy Rosenberg (Parton Center for Health and Wellness liaison)
- Jeff Wong '13
Areas of Oversight
The SAOC was tasked with coordinating the work of the many offices and individuals whose work pertiains to sexual assault in the following areas:
Policy and Procedures: College policies and the protocols that support them
Support and Resources: Resources for survivors and perpetrators
Education and Prevention: Ongoing research review for committee members; campus-wide education and prevention programming
Assessment: Regular evaluation of the effectiveness of our policies and programs
Communication: Coordinated communication strategies about all of the above
Although the primary goal of this committee is to provide an administrative body to coordinate the multiple facets of sexual assault policy, programming and prevention, it does note usurp the authority of individual staff or faculty members whose responsibilities include work in this area. Rather, those individuals serve as ex-officio member of the SAOC, and may call on the committee for collaboration, recommendations, support, and information as needed. The committee will be able to provide its research, raise concerns, and share information with others in the community as appropriate. The committee does not have the authority to enact Handbook policy changes or dictate programming, but may make recommendations to those responsible for these areas. It does, however, have authority to oversee those areas that lack ownership by a designated office or individual, such as the coordination of Web-based information about sexual assault.
To ask questions or provide feedback about any aspect of sexual assault at Middlebury, the SAOC, or this Web site, you may contact any of our members individually (see Membership), or may contact the chair of the SAOC, Associate Dean Karen Guttentag.