New Paltz Faculty, Staff, and Students:
The U.S. Department of Education announced today that the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has entered into an agreement with the State University of New York (SUNY) to ensure compliance with Title IX requirements to prevent and respond to sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual violence by SUNY and each of its 29 state-operated campuses. I referenced the Title IX review process in my October 2011 monthly report to the faculty and in this year’s State of the College address.
SUNY was selected because it is the largest comprehensive statewide system of public higher education in the United States and New Paltz because we are a representative SUNY comprehensive college. New Paltz did take exception to the fact that OCR held SUNY campuses to standards that OCR issued to campuses nationwide in spring 2011 for cases during the previous three years. However, there was no finding in the review that our campus mishandled any past cases.
In the federal announcement, Catherine E. Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, stated “I applaud SUNY for its willingness to show leadership by improving its efforts to address and prevent sexual harassment on its campuses.”
At New Paltz, we have zero tolerance for sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual violence. The College has responded proactively to OCR by reviewing and strengthening our procedures and taking the steps recommended by OCR to ensure that existing policies and procedures comply fully with Title IX standards issued in spring 2011. The review commended many of New Paltz’s programs, procedures, training, counseling services, and identified relatively minor procedural changes to improve our communication about policies and procedures and our handling of incidents.
I am grateful to Student Affairs, Human Resources, and Compliance and Campus Climate staff for their care and thoughtful work in acting promptly to implement procedural changes that were a major focus of their review.
Thanks to everyone for such a great community effort.
Donald P. Christian