The College has chosen the 12 members of the Committee on Student Safety and Accountability, chaired by Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson and dedicated to “improving student safety and well-being” by combating the issues of hazing, sexual assault and binge drinking, College President Jim Yong Kim said in a press release. The committee includes students, faculty and staff and will develop both short-term and long-term recommendations over the next year.
The four student members of COSSA are Hannah Decker ’13, Duncan Hall ’13, Tyler Melville ’14 and Chelsea Suydam ’14. Spanish and Portuguese professor Rebecca Biron, Native American studies professor Bruce Duthu, sociology professor Kathryn Lively and biology professor Rob McClung will represent College faculty. Three staff members Director of Safety and Security and College Proctor Harry Kinne, Athletic Director Harry Sheehy and Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Students Lisa Thum will also serve on the committee.
COSSA will “take an integrated approach” and work with existing College initiatives and multiple administrative offices, Kim said in the release. The Dartmouth College Health Improvement Program and the Student and Presidential Committee on Sexual Assault will both be involved in COSSA’s work. COSSA will also serve as an “advisory body” to the Dean of the College Office, the Provost’s Office and the President’s Office, according to the release.
“The committee will draw on the latest research and evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies by consulting with leading experts in student safety,” Kim said in the release.
Hall said that he hoped COSSA would include a wider range of voices from the Dartmouth community.
“[Dartmouth] has a lot of organizations in different sectors, which is great, but it kind of means that once you’re involved you only learn about that particular sector,” he said. “It’s really just a matter of staying up in other areas if you’re involved in the Greek system, for example, it’s still important to stay educated on inter-community issues.”
Hall formerly chaired the SPCSA and stepped down to serve as moderator of the Greek Leadership Council. He is also a member of Psi Upsilon fraternity.
Decker, who is the president of Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority, agreed to participate in COSSA because the issues it will address are pertinent to the communities of which she is a part, she said. Fostering individual accountability is important to making “cultural change,” according to Decker.
“A lot of the three issues stem from a lack of accountability in some ways,” she said. “There’s a Dartmouth code of conduct, and it obviously doesn’t include perpetrating sexual assault, hazing or binge drinking.”
A lack of accountability among students precludes the ability to effectively address issues that are so closely linked to students, Hall said.
“I think people throw around blame in very generalized terms,” he said. “They say, Oh, it’s the Greek system, or it’s men, or it’s women,’ but you can’t actually create cultural change if you don’t know who to blame.”
COSSA should interact with faculty members and the entire student body, Decker said.
“I would want to see it as a collaboration between students and faculty who are really an untapped resource in the whole debate surrounding these three issues,” she said.
In order to be effective, COSSA should avoid forcing reforms upon the student body and should instead implement change in other ways, Hall said.
“I would hope that there are ways of communication and relaying information back to various groups,” Hall said. “I would like to see feasible and tangible ways in which we can effectively foster accountability so we’re not mandating things. I wouldn’t want bylaws or anything like that I want to come up with creative ways in which we can help individual organizations.”
Kim said that the group will “reach out broadly” to different sectors of campus to gather input about hazing, sexual assault and binge drinking on campus.
“I encourage you to seize those opportunities and contribute your voice to this vital discussion,” he said in the release. “The harmful behaviors that affect our campus are no match for the power each of us has to shape the Dartmouth experience we wish to enjoy.”
Hall and Decker said that Johnson approached them directly about joining the committee but that they were not given further information about COSSA’s selection process. Hall said he has not yet been informed of how COSSA will function or when it will begin meeting.