Garrett Kirk ’24
The Tripod looked further this week into the College’s recently announced policy changes regarding sexual harassment and nondiscrimination. Most notably, the Interim Sexual Misconduct policy has been finalized as the Official Sexual Misconduct policy of the College.
The Tripod spoke with Associate Professor of Legal and Policy Studies Adrienne Fulco regarding the recent rule and procedural adjustments. Fulco was a member of the committee of students, faculty, staff, and administrators that previously met regarding the updated Interim Sexual Harassment Policy.
Fulco said that she was not surprised by the College’s policy adjustments in this respect, indicating that this step had been a part of the process that everyone on the committee was informed of. She indicated to the Tripod that nobody she spoke with was surprised whatsoever by the changes.
General Counsel and Secretary of the College Deke Mathieu spoke to the Tripod regarding why the College shifted the guidance from “interim” to “official.” Mathieu cited a College announcement from August, which stated “[The Working group] presented this policy to the college administration for adoption as an interim policy, to be amended as appropriate in the months ahead. The working group will remain intact until the policy is finalized, and we invite you to provide feedback and advice regarding the interim policy, as we work to finalize it.” Mathieu indicated that the committee’s aim
was “to recommend a final version for approval by the end of the coming semester.”
Fulco had further thoughts on this matter, telling the Tripod that the College did not want to issue a final policy until the broader Trinity community had the opportunity to attend sessions where the policy was used and where questions would be answered to determine whether further changes were needed.
According to Fulco, the College wanted to examine, review, and evaluate all feedback before issuing the final policy.
Fulco told the Tripod that the timing of the recent changes in the policy was due to Title IX’s May revisions under the Trump administration. In order to be in compliance with federal law, the College was required to make these changes, added Fulco.
When the committee convened to discuss the policy modifications it was as if “we were in Bible class,” Fulco added. She told the Tripod that transparency was a staple of this committee: “Everybody’s point of view was considered, and misunderstandings were always clarified.” Fulco has served on many committees throughout her time at Trinity, and she cited this committee as one of the best she has been a part of.
The timing of these changes is due to the College’s thorough approach to the matter, mentioned Fulco. Last spring, the College’s previous guidelines were in accordance with the Obama administration, and once the Trump administration promulgated new regulations, the College had to work to make the policy as specific to Trinity as possible, and still legally compliant.
Fulco indicated that if the Biden administration reverses some of the changes made by the Trump administration, the College will be required to make further alterations to their policy.
Fulco additionally stated that the process was slowed down due to the effects of the pandemic, and that the entire process would have gone much faster had it not been remote.