The Swarthmore administration deserves praise for placing its plans for Sexual Assault and Harassment Hearing panels on hold for the next year. As we reported earlier this month, the proposed sub-panel of the College Judiciary Committee was extremely misguided. By soliciting students to serve on a committee that explicitly deals with such sensitive disciplinary issues, the College risked politicizing our judiciary proceedings and undermining students’ expectation of due process.
In an email issued this morning, Dean of Students, Liz Braun, alludes to these problems, writing, “We have heard a number of substantial concerns from students and other community members not only about the appointment process and training but about the structure of the hearing panel itself. We take this feedback very seriously.” The concerns, says Braun, are “sufficiently concerning” to put the brakes on the panel. Kudos to the deans.
Braun’s email goes on to say that, “In the meantime, as has been true thus far this semester, any sexual assault or harassment cases will be heard by an external adjudicator.” Here at the Independent, we remain anxious that allegations as serious as sexual assault could be decided by a single person. Hopefully the deans’ willingness to reevaluate the panel will prompt a general reconsideration of what sorts of judiciary practices ensure justice for all parties.