In the fall, the student code of conduct will be up for revision once again. Understandably, the student population has been very interested in observing and influencing these changes in conduct, with mental health and sexual assault policies being prominent topics in the recent UCS election debates. On April 22nd, Lena Sclove held a press conference outside of the Rockefeller Library, detailing her experience of being sexually assaulted at Brown. For a detailed outline of the events, refer to the Brown Daily Herald coverage here, and Bluestocking Magazine’s take here. The case is now being covered by outside sources such as Jezebel and the Huffington Post.
On the same day, Klawunn sent out an email regarding a Brown University Community Council meeting from 4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m., which all interested students were welcome to attend. Many people did not know about this meeting until they received the email. For those of you who were unable to attend, here are some take-aways from the 30 minute conversation between the audience and the BUCC:
All of the seats in the audience were filled, with a majority of students present holding cardboard signs in solidarity with Lena Sclove and pressing for change in Brown’s approach to sexual assault. The protestors remained quiet during the technical presentation on code revisions, and it was not until Paxson invited audience members to the microphone did they vocally engage, one by one. Every time someone from the protest got up to speak, everyone holding a sign stood up behind them.
The Lena Sclove Case and the Petition
Emma Hall ’16 came to the microphone to speak about Lena Sclove and the current petition. Hall prefaced her statement by saying that last year she was raped by another Brown student, went through a hearing similar to Sclove’s, and her perpetrator was suspended for two years. She gave a brief overview of the press conference on April 22nd, and then went on to read the petition that has been circulating around campus. The petition was released at 11 a.m. that day. In her hand, Hall held over 300 physically signed petitions, and stated that the online petition before the meeting (at 4 p.m.) was approaching 2,600 signatures. A copy of the petition is available here.
Particular emphasis was put on this request at the end:
“We ask that Brown requires that anyone found responsible for sexual misconduct be suspended until the person they have assaulted graduates, or until two years have passed (whichever is longer). Schools have the responsibility, under Title IX, to eliminate a hostile environment and provide for the needs of the complainant. This cannot happen while a perpetrator is on campus.”
At one point, a protestor walked up the mic and firmly asked “I want to know how many students that have committed rape or sexual assault are on this campus right now, how many will be returning in the fall, the spring, and I don’t want to wait for five committees to hold hearings on it. I want this information on Friday – I think that’s reasonable.” After applause from the audience, Paxson tried to glean from the committee where this information could be found. Klawunn referred to the website for Student Life, but it was unclear whether or not the University intends to condense and distribute this information to the student body on their own accord.
A follow up question was: “If not strangulation and rape, what does it take to be expelled from this school?” Paxson asked the committee if there were clear guidelines for expulsion, to which Klawunn did not have a concise answer and instead referred to the future option of having a baseline sanction. A student shouted from the audience “so to answer your question, strangulation and rape do not get you expelled.” Continue Reading