Community Standards Update

Please note the following important updates regarding Brandeis Office of Student Rights and Community Standards and Sexual Assault Services and Prevention.

The 2014-15 Brandeis University code of conduct, Rights and Responsibilities, is expected to be finalized in the next 7-10 days. A current draft of the document is available online. It includes a number of critical changes, especially to policies regarding sexual misconduct (sections 3 and 23) and academic integrity (section 4). All enrolled students are responsible for complying with the policies and procedures described in this document.

We are also in transition as the director of the Office of Student Rights and Community Standards has left Brandeis for a new position. Kerry A. Guerard, an expert who has directed conduct processes and offices at multiple universities, has been appointed as the interim director while a search is underway, and will begin her work Wednesday, Sept. 23. In the meantime, Associate Dean of Students Maggie Balch will manage the office and related processes.

We also will be appointing an interim director for the Office of Prevention Services. Sheila McMahon, who directs that office as the campus sexual assault services and prevention specialist, is in the process of completing a doctoral program. Her program has unexpectedly imposed a critical shift in her dissertation research with an impending deadline. We knew when we hired Sheila how important her doctoral work was to her and promised to support her in every possible way. Recognizing the unusual circumstances, we offered Sheila, and she accepted, a temporary academic leave to complete her research. While it is clear it was a very difficult choice for her to be away from our campus, she asked that we share her feelings, “I am not sure how best to convey how much I appreciate the support of the Brandeis community at this time.” We appreciate all that Sheila has done, and will do, for our community, wish her well on her research efforts and look forward to her returning to campus.

We continue to search actively for an appropriately experienced and credentialed interim appointment for Sheila’s position. In the meantime, we will use a team approach—utilizing designated point people for the different areas of responsibility—to ensure uninterrupted services.

Regarding student advocacy/crisis management, Lisa Hardej will be available to meet with students who may have experienced a sexual assault or have other related concerns. Students should feel free to reach Lisa directly via email or phone for a confidential conversation about various healing and reporting options. Lisa will hold regular office hours, Monday through Friday, 4-6 p.m., in the Office of Prevention Services in Usdan. Lisa currently works in Academic Services as a class-based academic advisor and holds a bachelor’s degree in women and gender studies and a master’s degree in counseling. Students can reach Lisa at SASP@brandeis.edu or by phone at 781-736-3626 in the Office of Prevention Services.

One of the key initiatives of the Office of Prevention Services this semester is the launching of a student-run Rape Crisis Center. We are fortunate to have recently hired Dr. Kristin Huang in the Psychological Counseling Center. Kristin has clinical expertise in trauma and sexual violence. In addition to her clinical hours in the PCC, Kristin will serve as the advisor to the student staff and volunteers of the Rape Crisis Center. A space has already been designated in Usdan, down the hall from the Office of Prevention Services, and our plan is to have the center operational before the end of the fall semester. Kristin will serve as a point person for students with questions about the Rape Crisis Center or about administrative or operational concerns with the Office of Prevention Services in general. Kristin is available at khuang75@brandeis.edu or through the Office of Prevention Services at 781-736-3626.

Bystander intervention is a primary prevention strategy that changes the focus from a one-to-one relationship between a potential perpetrator and a potential victim to a total community response. Students can schedule a peer run bystander intervention training session through an online form or by calling the Office of Prevention Services, 781-736-3626.

Brandeis University is deeply committed to addressing sexual assault and misconduct. President Lawrence underscores this point in a recent statement, which can be found online.