Richmond College Dean Joe Boehman spoke to one student, two reporters and more than 18 empty chairs in an open meeting for RC students on Monday, Sept. 12.
The meeting, which RC students were invited to in an email sent by Boehman on Friday, Sept. 9, was billed as an open meeting and not solely a response to allegations of the university's administration's mishandling of Title IX proceedings.
“I invite you to join me for a meeting for Richmond College students Monday, September 12th, from 3:00-4:30 in the Whitehurst Living Room,” Boehman wrote in a two-sentence email. “I welcome your input, questions, and conversation about anything you wish to discuss.”
Boehman’s discussion with the lone attendee was centered around the allegations and the University’s response, to which the dean explained one of the challenges of handling Title IX cases.
“We listen to someone who comes forward,” Boehman said. “We give them the support. We believe what they are telling us is accurate. But we also need to investigate. And that’s the tension. You want to give people the resources so they step forward, but we also have to investigate what happened.”
The student in attendance, who acknowledged that he was more comfortable speaking because of the low turnout, asked to not be named for fear of being called "an apologist."
“A lot of people get all up in arms and make it all about, ‘We have to do something, we have to take action,’ without necessarily thinking, ‘Hey is that action actually going to produce results?’” he said. “It’s just a very rough situation the University administration is in right now. And I don’t know if the sort of attitude on campus is necessarily being aware or fair of that.”
But Boehman did not blame students for being upset.
“One thing that I value in our society is that we have the right to protest when something is upsetting,” he said. “I think people are engaged with helping us as a community figure out solutions.”
Boehman said that data regarding Title IX procedures and cases would be released once the university pulled all of the information together. Though he acknowledged the university’s limits in disclosure of such information, he said that students had a right to know what the investigation process looks like, the number of cases, and the general outcomes, among other information.
Boehman also responded to concerns about Title IX reporting during the absence of Dan Fabian, the Richmond College associate dean and deputy Title IX coordinator. Students reporting a Title IX case, Boehman said, would work with Maura Smith, the Title IX coordinator, who would direct the report to one of the university’s investigators. According to Boehman, not all Title IX cases go to Fabian or Kerry Fankhauser, the Westhampton College associate dean and deputy Title IX coordinator.
In response to a question about the possibility of strengthening the regulation of alcohol consumption, Boehman responded saying that all options were on the table if students came forward with good suggestions and that the problem was more fundamental than alcohol.
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“If people treated each other with civility and respect, alcohol would still be a factor, but it wouldn’t be as much of a factor,” Boehman said.
Boehman suggested that because of low attendance, no pictures should be taken.
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