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Mennonite Higher Education Institutions respond to Open Letter

10.9. 2017 Written By: The Mennonite Inc. Staff 1,078 read

We offered all Mennonite Church USA Higher Education Institutions a chance to respond to the Open Letter from Into Account Staff regarding changes to Title IX. You can read the full text of the letter online. We will update this post as more statements become available and we are publishing the statements in the order in which they arrived. 

Dr. Joseph Manickam will be the 9th president of Hesston College. Photo provided.

Hesston (Kansas) College, October 6, 2017

From President Joseph Manickam: “At Hesston College we believe that as Christians we are called to live to a higher standard than the world requires. At times we fail, but we seek reconciliation and we work, with the advice and counsel of others, to create a healthy culture of interpersonal safety.

That is the purpose behind the Sexual Misconduct and Interpersonal Safety Task Force, which began its work in summer of 2016 at the request of Hesston College. We appreciate their dedication to the task and we take seriously their recommendations. Hesston College’s current policy follows the preponderance of evidence standard of proof in Title IX hearings. We seek to develop and implement systems that support victims of sexual misconduct and which hold offenders of sexual misconduct accountable for their action. We seek to be an accountable institution which proactively mitigates future incidents of sexual misconduct.”

Goshen (Indiana) College, October 9, 2017

From Interim President Ken Newbold: “Goshen College’s Title IX Committee has been monitoring the recent changes announced by the US Department of Education related to Title IX and are working to clarify the interpretations of this new guidance. We remain committed to insuring a safe and secure environment on campus for everyone and to supporting survivors. We have not changed how we are addressing sexual violence, including maintaining the preponderance of evidence standard of proof in Title IX hearings. The processes and structures we’ve had in place remain and are continually being reviewed to respond to community needs.”

 

 

Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Indiana, October 9, 2017

From Daniel Grimes, Title IX coordinator: “AMBS is committed to maintain a work and academic environment that exemplifies and supports Christian sexual values, maintains the dignity and worth of all individuals and fosters relational trust between all members of our learning community. AMBS’s Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures outline a process that is designed to be prompt, thorough, impartial, and seeks to assure an equitable resolution for the accuser and the accused. Our policy and practice have been to use the preponderance of evidence standard to determine whether a violation has occurred. We have not nor do we have any intention to alter our existing policy or practice despite the DOE’s latest ruling. Our commitment remains steadfast to maintaining a safe and fair environment for students and employees alike with educational forums, clear policies and behavioral expectations regularly clarified and reinforced.”

Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas, October 9, 2017

From Interim President John Sheriff: “According to the U.S. Department of Education 2017 statement on Campus Sexual Misconduct, the standard of evidence for evaluating a claim of sexual misconduct should be consistent with the standard the school applies in other student misconduct cases. At Bethel College, both the Office of Student Life and the Title IX Office currently utilize, and will continue to utilize the ‘preponderance of evidence’ standard for adjudicating complaints and issues of misconduct.”

Bluffton (Ohio) University, October 9, 2017

From President James Harder: “Bluffton University is aware of and examining the changes by the Department of Education regarding Title IX legislation. We are committed to continuing to use the preponderance of evidence standard of proof in our Title IX investigations as our policy is currently designed. We are also committed to ensuring our Title IX trainings, policies and procedures ensure a welcome and safe campus community as well as a fair and equitable process for all students.”

 

 

Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, October 10. 2017

Dr. Susan Schultz Huxman. EMU photo.

From President Susan Schultz Huxman: “EMU approved at its June board meeting a new, comprehensive Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy, based on higher ed ‘best practices,’ including quality practices that enhance our missional identity. I am thankful for the strong work of our EMU Sexual Violence Task Force. We now have a timely, thorough and eminently readable fifty-seven page policy and procedures book and portal with easy access to all in our community.

Given our ethos as a university committed to caring community and active peacemaking, the beauty of this new policy is that it’s not just a compliance exercise; it is designed to equip our people (students, faculty, staff) with updated educational understanding and empowerment around unhealthy sexual relationships and how to seek help quickly and confidentially. In essence, our greater purpose is to care for our students and employees from an Anabaptist perspective. The Federal mandates (Title IX, Clery) are the ‘minimal’ standard.

This Fall all students faculty and staff completed a new training program and an introduction to both the policy and its guidelines. The new policy preserves the evidentiary standard ‘of the preponderance of the evidence’ and as importantly we have added other missional features for ‘walking alongside’ and restoring wholeness in these cases.”

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