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Posted by: | Posted on: January 26, 2021

Notre Dame makes changes to Title IX policy

first_imgThe University implemented a number of changes to its process of reporting and resolving cases of sexual assault, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking at the beginning of the academic year. The changes included the hiring of two additional deputy Title IX coordinators, an increase in the role of the deputy Title IX coordinator in the administrative resolution process — which can result in disciplinary consequences — and the new option of pursuing an “alternative resolution” in lieu of disciplinary action.“We always get feedback about incidents that have occurred,” University vice president for student affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding said. “We’ve made a variety of changes trying to be responsive to what we’ve learned and how we can be more supportive of all students.”These changes were rolled out in the midst of an unsettled lawsuit against Notre Dame filed in April by a former student — referred to as “John Doe” — alleging he was unjustly dismissed from the University less than a month before his graduation.Doe was experiencing episodic depression and suicidal thoughts in the summer and fall of 2016, according to the original lawsuit, and sent related texts to his girlfriend — referred to as “Jane Roe” — over the course of months. Roe perceived the texts as sexual harassment and dating violence and reported the incidents to deputy Title IX coordinator Heather Ryan on Oct. 14, according to documents from a preliminary injunction hearing in the Northern District Court of Indiana. After an investigation and subsequent administrative hearing, the University found Doe in violation of its sexual harassment policy and expelled him, with an opportunity to re-enroll at a later date.The lawsuit alleges Notre Dame mishandled the case and conducted an investigation full of “procedural flaws, lack of due process and inherent gender bias, designed to ensure that male students accused of any type of sexual misconduct or harassment — concepts that do not apply to John’s conduct — are found responsible.”Judge Philip Simon ordered the University to permit Doe to take his final exams in May, stating in his order following an April 28 injunction hearing that “the University’s limits on hearing testimony — particularly the application of its narrow witness standard — might be found to be arbitrary or capricious in several respects.” Notre Dame was required to grade Doe’s work, the order said, but it could still withhold his degree and ban him from campus pending the result of the case.An initial date for the trial has not been set.Hoffmann Harding said she could not comment on an unresolved court case. Of the policy changes, however, she said similar revisions and improvements are made each summer.“We try to learn from each and every situation where a student has been hurt or harmed and look at it every summer,” she said. “We’ve looked at it every summer since I’ve been in this role.”For its most recent changes, she said Notre Dame looked to Baylor University’s newly-implemented model.“Baylor’s system is one of the most recent that has had input … from the Office of Civil Rights, but also from outside folks with expertise in fairness and ensuring that we can be supportive of students involved in these situations,” Hoffmann Harding said.Ryan said the University is in the process of hiring the two new deputy Title IX coordinators, who will collaborate with her to fill the position’s heightened responsibilities. Instead of contracting work with external investigators as Notre Dame has done in the past, deputy Title IX coordinators will now conduct investigations by talking to the complainant and respondent, interviewing witnesses and examining information provided.This change was made in response to student feedback about conversations with external investigators and the timeliness of investigations, Hoffmann Harding said.“In some cases, [students] felt a bit less comfortable sharing information with an external investigator, as excellent and well trained as they are,” she said.In the past, once an investigation was complete, a Title IX case was referred to the Office of Community Standards for a hearing.  Now, a three-person panel — comprised of the deputy Title IX coordinator conducting the investigation, a member of the Office of Student Affairs and another individual from the Title IX office — will recommend a finding and outcome, Ryan said.“Everything will happen much sooner than it’s happened in the past, in terms of timeline for a student who’s experiencing this,” she said.In his injunction order, Simon pointed specifically to delays in the investigation and hearing processes as merits to why Doe’s case had some likelihood of success, part of the burden of proof required for the order allowing Doe to take his exam. Simon wrote that in its handbook, the University sets a goal of finishing each case within 60 days of the initial report; the decision in Doe’s case was made 111 days later.Additionally, Doe filed complaints against Roe in February that “evidently remain pending,” Simon wrote, preventing Doe’s allegations from drawing Roe’s character and credibility into question.Now, Ryan said, after a final report is released by the investigative panel — stating whether or not a respondent is found to have violated University policy and recommending disciplinary action, if necessary — both the complainant and respondent have the opportunity to accept the outcome. If either party contests the decision, the case moves to an administrative review proceeding to determine if there was a procedural flaw, substantive new information or insufficient evidence to support the recommended finding — reasons the University accepts as grounds for review.“This scope allows us to have an administrative review board really look at a case in a way that is comprehensive and really responding to student concerns,” Ryan said. “They’d be able to still have an opportunity to speak in front of that panel and share information, ask questions.”The administrative review board is now chosen from a pool of trained individuals from the University appointed by University president Fr. John Jenkins, she added.In the past, a case review board consisted of three faculty and administrators, according to a transcript of the April injunction hearing. Simon discussed the review of Doe’s case in his order, referencing a “conclusory and dismissive denial by the Conduct Case Review Board” as another merit of the case to allow Doe to take his exams. Simon wrote that the board refused to consider Roe’s “cherry-picked” text messages and “evidence pertinent to Jane’s credibility and state of mind,” which could have qualified as reasons to remand the case to the Office of Community Standards before taking any disciplinary action.Hoffmann Harding said in previous years, when a case came to the Title IX office, a complainant had two options: to pursue an administrative resolution, potentially dealing with disciplinary consequences, or — if the deputy Title IX coordinator found no threat to the general community — to close the case. Now, complainants have the additional option of an “alternative resolution,” she added.“This has the objective of stopping a behavior, but not necessarily going to that next step, a disciplinary outcome,” Hoffmann Harding said. “So it involves sharing the feedback … and then basically agreeing that it ceases and desists, but not necessarily taking that next step.”Ryan said participation in the alternative resolution process would be voluntary for both parties and entail non-disciplinary outcomes, such as mediation, support services or a non-contact order. The goal of it all, she added, is to make the process more “restorative.”“It’s going to be very individual, depending on the needs of the complainant and the nature of the concern,” she said.This option was not available in October, when Roe made her complaint against Doe. Ryan Willerton, Notre Dame’s vice president of career and professional development and former director of the Office of Community Standards, said the disciplinary outcomes were meant to be “educational,” while speaking about the old process at the injunction hearing in April. In his court order, Simon wrote that he did not find this testimony to be credible.“Being thrown out of school, not being permitted to graduate and forfeiting a semester’s worth of tuition is ‘punishment’ in any reasonable sense of the term,” the judge wrote.Hoffmann Harding said the University is always looking at ways to adapt policies and procedures to ensure it is “providing student care in the fairest and most compassionate way.” And despite the numerous changes made to the University’s process of dealing with Title IX cases internally, the process of reporting sexual harassment or misconduct remains the same, she added.“I think it’s very important to realize that most things really haven’t changed in terms of getting support from confidential or non-confidential resources,” Hoffmann Harding  said.The University introduced the changes in its summer training and Welcome Weekend programs and will continue to publicize them in other ways, such as the Moreau First Year of Studies courses. Ryan said she will be hosting a monthly “Lunch and Learn” series, where students are welcome to discuss and learn about the new policies. “We’re trying to make it accessible and transparent for all of you so that students have enough choices and agency and the support they need,” Hoffmann Harding said. “That’s truly at the underline of what’s driving all of this.”Assistant Managing Editor Rachel O’Grady contributed to this report.Tags: deputy title IX coordinator, John Doe, Title IXlast_img read more

Posted by: | Posted on: January 17, 2021

11 Honeybee respect

first_imgBy Amanda M. EllisUniversity of GeorgiaWhen a honeybee buzzes the blooms in your garden, give it somerespect. The pollination it and other honeybees are providing issupplying an estimated one-third of the world’s food. In the United States alone, honeybee pollination provides a$20-billion boost to agriculture. And we may be in danger oflosing these vital pollinators.Over the past 20 years, some exotic honeybee pests have beenintroduced into the U.S.The most devastating of these is the varroa mite. To a bee, thismite is like having a basketball-sized tick attached to yourside. You can imagine the damage it causes as it sucks thehoneybee’s blood.Varroa mites transmit viruses to the bee, too, causing evengreater sickness. These mites have all but wiped out wild U.S.colonies of honeybees. As a result, the honeybees in NorthAmerica are virtually all domesticated, relying on beekeepers tomanage the devastating mites.Garden pollinatorsAnd just when overall bee health is at its lowest, we needhoneybees more than ever. Honeybees are important pollinators forgardeners at all levels.Pollination is the movement of pollen from the male part of aflower to the female part. It’s vital to plant reproduction. Mostplants need pollination to produce fruit. Some even requirecross-pollination to set more and larger fruit.Other types of native bee pollinators are out there. But habitatdestruction and urban development have reduced their populations,too, in many areas.Honeybees fill the pollination void left by native species.They’re excellent pollinators because of their generalistforaging habits and large colony sizes, with 30,000 to 60,000bees per hive.Honeybees visit plants to collect both pollen and nectar to useas food. They use pollen as a protein source for rearing babybees. And nectar, which they process and store in the hive ashoney, is their primary energy source.Bee dancingTo “tell” one another where pollen and nectar-rich plants are,honeybees use a special dance language known as the waggle dance.During spring and summer, forager bees work from sunup tosundown, working themselves to death in only six weeks.Pests such as varroa mites bring bees’ death even faster, makingthis valuable pollinator scarce in many areas. The honeybee laboratory at the University of Georgia is at theforefront of honeybee research. The lab’s primary researchemphases focus on controlling bee pests and studying pollinationecology.Scientists are making strides in both areas. And just in time.Honeybee health is at an all-time low.Honeybees are a vital component not just of a successful gardenbut of agriculture, too. So, support and promote honeybees andbeekeeping in your area. After all, honeybees give you one-thirdof all the food you eat.(Amanda Ellis is a graduate student in entomology with theUniversity of Georgia College of Agricultural and EnvironmentalSciences.) Volume XXXINumber 1Page 11last_img read more

Posted by: | Posted on: September 27, 2020

CEDAW Harms Families

first_imgConcerned Women for America 7 May 2010The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is a United Nations (U.N.) treaty that compels countries to change their laws and culture to abolish distinctions between men and women. If the U.S. ratifies CEDAW, it would impact every aspect of life and place Americans under the supervision of a U.N. committee of “gender experts.”Under the guise of “eliminating discrimination against women,” CEDAW would limit Americans’ freedom to make personal, professional and political decisions – such as family duties, parental rights, religious exercise, education, employment, and political representation. Government agents and an unaccountable U.N. Committee would be free to impose a radical vision of restructuring society according to “gender experts.”America’s Founding Fathers trusted that the U.S. would not adopt a treaty that violates our Constitution. CEDAW is a direct threat to the hard-fought American right of self-determination. It would radically alter the U.S. by handing over the right of “we the people” to decide our laws and culture – even family decisions – to a U.N. committee of foreign representatives.How CEDAW impacts families:CEDAW undermines the traditional family. The treaty states, “A change in the traditional role of men as well as the role of women in society and in the family is needed to achieve full equality between men and women.” Article 5a requires countries to: “Modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women .” CEDAW is a global Equal Rights Amendment, a tool for radical feminists to impose their views upon all of society. It forbids recognizing the wonderful differences between men and women, even in the most personal relationships – family, marriage, and religious. CEDAW defines discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the basis of sex,” in “any field.” This would invite an avalanche of frivolous lawsuits in the United States. CEDAW undercuts the role of parents in child rearing. Articles 5 and 16 affirm that in family matters “the interests of the children shall be paramount.” Who decides what is in a child’s “best interest”? What penalty would result from violating a child’s “best interest”? This superficial, feel-good statement places children in the hands of “experts” who follow the latest fads or believe governments can raise children better than parents. CEDAW would globalize abortion policy. Articles 12 and 14, section 2b, seek “to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning” – rhetoric which can lead to open access to abortion. CEDAW seeks to indoctrinate children. The treaty requires that textbooks and teaching methods comply with CEDAW. Single-sex schools are prohibited because their “perspective” on gender is not acceptable. Taxpayers are forced to pay the cost of “gender neutralizing” textbooks and school programs to eliminate mentions of women as mothers. CEDAW encourages decriminalizing prostitution. Article 11, section 1(c), upholds “the right to free choice of profession and employment.” The Committee has included prostitution in that “free choice” – to the detriment of needy women around the world. Twenty-three international “experts” would govern U.S. policy. CEDAW Part V (Articles 17-22) creates a Committee of 23 “gender experts” to oversee the implementation of CEDAW. This places the welfare and well-being of American women and families at the mercy of foreign opinions. This committee includes representatives from China (which forcibly aborts women) and Cuba (which murders women who attempt to escape the island). Other representatives that have been on the committee, and could be again, are North Korea and Saudi Arabia.Examples of CEDAW Committee’s rulings:It “recommends the decriminalization of prostitution in China.” It criticized Belarus for “such symbols as a Mothers’ Day.” It criticized Mexico for a “lack of accessto easy and swift abortion.” It urged Finland to promote equal sharing of domestic and family tasks between women and men. It derided Slovenia because “less than 30 percent of children under three years of age were in formal day care.” It “expressed concern that women’s motherhood role was taking precedence over their professional and individual development” in Uzbekistan. It told Romania and Austria to integrate gender studies in schools. It criticized Croatia for not requiring hospitals and doctors to commit abortions. It criticized Ireland for “the influence of the Church in attitudes and stereotypes but also in official state policy.” It told Mexico it “would welcome a more equitable redistribution of wealth.”http://www.cwfa.org/cedaw-harms-families/last_img read more