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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass updates Title IX websites with provisions inspired by Survivor’s Bill of Rights

Collegian File Photo
(Collegian File Photo)

The University of Massachusetts updated the My Rights section of their Title IX website to specify provisions from the Coalition to End Rape Culture’s Survivor Bill of Rights.

The My Rights section, which CERC President Priya Ghosh said has been consistently revised by UMass since the winter break, contains nine bullet points and is prefaced with a statement acknowledging the influence of the Survivor’s Bill of Rights, which specifically applies to survivors of sexual assault.

“I discovered yesterday that many of the parts of the nine major clauses were adopted from the Survivor’s Bill of Rights,” said Ghosh, a public health sciences major.

The updated My Rights section emphasize many points from the Survivor’s Bill of Rights, such as the assurance that students’ Title IX rights will be protected if they study abroad, that students have the right to choose whether or not to seek a disciplinary hearing if they become a survivor of sexual misconduct and that students have the right to withdraw a Title IX complaint at any point.

However, the bullet points in the section do not cover all parts of the 13-page Survivor’s Bill of Rights, which is more extensive and specific than the My Rights section of the Title IX website. The ability of students to withdraw from classes if necessary as a result of a sexual assault, and the guarantee that UMass will fund an abortive method if the survivor becomes pregnant as a result of the sexual assault are two examples which are not mentioned in the bullet points.

“I think it shows they’re willing to work with us but there’s a lot to still be done,” said CERC Treasurer Colby Gavin, a sophomore studying political science and women, gender and sexuality studies.

On Friday, members of CERC will meet with members of the UMass administration to discuss the University’s Title IX policies.

“Now our focus is on Friday and making sure we talk about the extent to which these policies are implemented,” Ghosh said.

Ed Blaguszewski, the University’s spokesman, said that the updates to the Title IX website do not represent a change in the University’s Title IX policy, but rather a clarification.

“In working with students from CERC, we have recently revised language on this site,” Blaguszewski wrote in an emailed statement. “There was no change in federal requirements or the way that we provide support to students studying abroad.”

Ghosh used the example of how students who survive a sexual assault would be effected if they live off campus and need to move as a result of their assault to explain the administration’s policy.

Since UMass does not have a policy of reimbursing third parties, the student who has to move to an off-campus house would have to pay moving fees during the adjudication process, although they could assist the student.

“They could arbitrate with the landlord,” Ghosh said. “They’ll recoup finances to a certain extent.”

Ghosh said that over the winter break, multiple UMass departments wrote a document entitled “Implementation Status of CERC Survivor Bill of Rights demands,” which Ghosh said CERC planned to release to all students on Wednesday night.

The document listed each right guaranteed in the Survivor’s Bill of Rights, the current UMass policy and either the date UMass implemented that provision or how it could conceivably implement them, if possible.

According to the document, most of the clauses in the Survivor’s Bill of Rights exist as current UMass policy, and there are a few that are out of the University’s control.

“The clauses that do exist, we’d like to talk about whether they’re visible, whether they’re accessible, whether they’re transparent,” Ghosh said of the meeting this Friday.

Ghosh also said that UMass plans to send out surveys about students’ Title IX experiences to randomly selected students, a sample email of which they gave to CERC to check for language.

The survey, which will be sent to 3,500 undergraduate and 2,000 graduate students, will be sent out around April 3.

“They asked us about content warnings and just basic information that they provided in the email,” Ghosh said.

CERC has been campaigning for the implementation of the Survivor’s Bill of Rights since the spring semester of 2015.

Stuart Foster can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @Stuart_C_Foster.

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  • K

    KMFDM999Apr 4, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    No bill of rights for the accused?