This article was published by Jasmine Heyward of the Huntington News on September 1st, 2017.
Northeastern’s Student Government Association (SGA) announced fall policy changes including changes to the Title IX hearing process and trayless dining at its summer 2 senate meeting on Aug. 14.
After more than three years of campaigning by student advocates, Title IX complaints will no longer be heard by a panel of five students like other Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (OSCCR) offenses, Title IX coordinator Mark Jannoni said at the meeting. Instead, an investigator will give a detailed report to a Title IX-specific panel of two professional staff members and one student. This panel has the opportunity to speak to the alleged victim and the accused separately.
“Neither party will be in the room at the same time,” Jannoni said. “Neither party can ask questions of the other party because we don’t want to re-victimize.”
The Office of Gender Equity and Compliance, SGA and the Sexual Assault Response Coalition (SARC) will release a joint statement to further explain the upcoming policy changes, including guidelines on how members of the panel will be selected, Jannoni said.
Opponents of the previous process felt that it often forced survivors to re-live their experience. Some ended up having classes with students who ruled that their experience wasn’t truly a sexual assault, said Martha Neuman, a senior human services and international affairs major and one of SARC’s outgoing e-board members. Others had to be in the same room as their alleged perpetrator for the formal hearing.
“Hopefully [the new policy] will encourage reporting because it will allow more students to feel comfortable coming forward,” Neuman said.
SGA Executive Vice President Paulina Ruiz also announced that Dining Services has removed trays from all dining halls starting the fall 2017 semester. This is one of many sustainability projects started last year under Ruiz’s Student Services committee.
Other SGA cabinet members presented updates on their progress with upcoming events such as Fall Fest and Husky Takeover, which both focus on welcoming students back to campus. Some members also gave updates on projects nearing completion, including a community asset map that will be presented later this month by the student affairs committee under Nathan Hostert, a sophomore political science major. The map will feature nearby businesses and organizations that are interested in interacting more with Northeastern students.
“Summer represents an opportunity for growth, for relaxation and for building community,” said Suchira Sharma, Northeastern’s student body president and a senior finance and business administration student.
SGA holds two summer meetings each year to allow available cabinet members and senators to discuss the projects they are working on and set goals for the fall semester. While this one was small, with fewer than 10 SGA members present in their 333 Curry meeting space, the SGA cabinet finds that these meetings are helpful, Ruiz said.
“This meeting serves as a way to engage with students on campus during the summer, but also report on our progress and show that even though we stop meeting we don’t stop working,” said Ruiz, a junior psychology major.