Deadlines for implementing sexual misconduct policy changes have crept up, but they haven’t all been met. A new diversity and equity office hasn’t been created yet, and the reassignment of cabinet-level administrators hasn’t been done.
Should we see this as a problem? According to University President Richard Feldman, the answer is no.
“It’s much more important we do these things right, that we do these things collaboratively, than we do them by some particular deadline,” he told the Democrat and Chronicle for an article published April 9.
According to the president, the delay has been caused by the administration trying to do more than what was initially planned and not because of a difficulty in gaining traction with the proposals. If this is indeed the case, we support the delay of deadlines. We understand that compromising deadlines might be necessary in seeing plans through to their fullest.
The benefit of the doubt we give Feldman and the administration isn’t blind faith. There’s reason to believe they are making real progress. Take a look at the status updates on the White investigation recommendations on the University’s “Culture of Respect” website: We see that the administration has already created new sexual misconduct guides for students, faculty, and staff; identified two advisors to help the claimants and the accused; appointed consultant DeEtta Jones to help design a new office focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion; and reviewed mandatory training programs for UR community members, which are expected to be implemented in the fall.
The updates also showcase further nuances, such as making FAQs that clarify any ambiguity regarding the definition of sexual misconduct; identifying experiential training for community members that supplement online modules explaining sexual misconduct; and recognizing that claimants might need different kinds of advisors. As the website reads, “there are differences between an advisor who helps a potential claimant or an accused party understand the process, and an advisor or advocate who provides support to a claimant or accused party in matters involving sexual harassment.”
But we must also recognize the situation as a slippery slope. Once deadlines are foregone, it gives allowance to further forego deadlines. Thus, students must keep in mind that deadlines were compromised and continue to put reasonable pressure on Feldman and his administration, so that there’s a continued incentive for them to get things done.