On Monday, March 15, 2021, President Caslen, in consultation with the Board of Trustees
and senior campus leaders, put in place a series of deliberate actions that collectively
are intended to ensure the transparent review and purposeful improvement of efforts
intended to reduce sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and interpersonal violence
within the University of South Carolina community. One of these important actions
is the conduct of an internal comprehensive review of the entire system and process.
Action item No. 3, from the president’s letter, calls for the creation of an interdisciplinary
team of faculty, staff and students who will undertake a comprehensive review of processes,
policies, communications, training and historic activity, and determine institutional
capacity to effectively prevent and respond to acts or threats of sexual harassment
or interpersonal violence. At the president’s directive, senior leaders then nominated
key individuals to lead and serve on the Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct and
Interpersonal Violence Comprehensive Review Team (Title IX Task Force) undertaking
- Over a 45-day period, conduct a holistic and comprehensive review of our processes, policies, training, communications, historic activity, capacity and effectiveness.
- At the conclusion of the review period, the team will recommend to the president and
the cabinet sustainable long-term approaches, action steps, structure and funding
requirements intended to improve the institution’s ability to prevent and respond
to sexual misconduct. The review will include but not be limited to recommendations
in the following areas:
- Review the current policy for feedback on the following areas: (a) coherence with federal guidance; (b) general readability and understanding; (c) relation to other preexisting policies related to harassment and discrimination; and (d) recommendations for education surrounding the separation of policies relating to Title IX, Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- A mapping of USC’s current processes and procedures for the reporting and adjudicating concerns and complaints of sexual misconduct and interpersonal violence.
- A review of processes currently in place to train faculty, staff and students on their Title IX obligations as well as recommend future initiatives.
- A review of communications, education and programmatic initiatives currently in place to prevent sexual misconduct, to inform and educate reporting practices. Review should include web presence, readability of process maps, respondent services, and other visual guides.
- Best-practice organizational structures, processes and appeals mechanisms within higher education and within private industry that are designed to respond to the issues under review to include a review of the current work group, policy group and communications group.
- Resources identified that are lacking or necessary to improve in this effort.
The comprehensive review will examine all aspects of the institution’s efforts to
effectively implement Title IX efforts to include: education, communications, reporting,
investigation, adjudication, advocacy, support and care. The comprehensive review
will have access to all information and resources that the task force would like to
examine. In addition, and if necessary or requested, the task force will secure outside
support or expertise to inform their analysis and recommendations.
The final product of the review will be recommendations for improving processes, procedures,
communication and education; a draft timeline for improvement implementation; initial
budgeting needed to implement the recommendations; and other actions necessary to
improve university systems.
The team will have an initial period of 45-days to conduct its review. Of note, however,
is the ability of the president to extend the work of the team beyond this initial
time period should conditions warrant.
The Title IX Task Force
The Title IX Task Force is comprised of two key components and enabled by the entire university:
- Co-leadership representing both faculty and staff.
- Inclusive task force membership representing a broad cohort of faculty, staff and students.
- Kirsten Kennedy, associate vice president, Student Housing and Sustainability, Division of Student Affairs and Academic Support
- Audrey Korsgaard, chair-elect of the Faculty Senate, professor of Management and director, Riegel And Emory Human Resources Center, Darla Moore School of Business
Task Force Members
- Aidan Baker – undergraduate student
- Judith Chontos-Komorowski – medical director, Student Health Services
- Shelley Dempsey – president, Staff Senate
- Emily Dengler – student body vice president
- Wes Hickman – CEO, USC Alumni Association
- Susan Kuo – professor of Law and associate dean for Academic Affairs, School of Law
- Angela Liese – professor of epidemiology and biostatistics
- Derrick Meggie – director, State Government Relations
- Patrice Penney – clinical assistant professor, College of Social Work
- Scott Prill – associate vice president and deputy chief of police
- Bill Pruitt – project manager, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
- Suzanne Swan – professor of psychology
- Claire Windsor – undergraduate student
- Lauryn Workman – undergraduate student
- Kat Yoffie – graduate student, School of Law