Updated Student Handbook reflects new state regulations

Dean Towle spoke to first-years during Introduction Convocation on August 23, 2019. (Marya Kuratova / McDaniel Free Press).

This year, the College made significant updates to the McDaniel College Policy Against Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct and Other Forms of Personal Violence Policy in accordance with the new regulations implemented by Maryland.

The 2019-20 McDaniel College Student Handbook underwent routine updates for the new school year. The Handbook provides policy content and vital information. It is intended to be utilized by students as a guide for conduct and processes at the school.

Dean Elizabeth Towle sent out an email to all students on the first day of the semester, providing access to the Handbook itself, as well as a bulleted list of the key content in the book. Additionally, Towle shared McDaniel College’s Statement of Non-Discrimination and summarized the changes made to the policy, citing page numbers to benefit further interest.

The policy clarifies the availability of resources on campus to include Campus Safety and the access they provide to a SAFE exam at Carroll Hospital Center. It also clarifies the reach of Title IX of the Educational Amendments, a law that’s primary purpose is to prohibit discrimination in education, now extending to parents.

Towle clarified the differentiations between the complainant and the respondent, in the context of misconduct, explicitly. This distinction is necessary to understand the rules and rights for grievance procedures for alleged violations of the policy against sexual misconduct and sexual and gender-based harassment and discrimination, beginning on page 20 of the Handbook. The complainant is “the individual who experienced an alleged violation,” while the respondent is “the individual who allegedly engaged in a policy violation.”

In the section regarding the rights of the complainant and the respondent, it is provided that an individual can decline to participate in any phase of the process, but it will not inhibit the College’s ability to proceed with the process. This renders the acting power of the individual’s decision, be it from the complainant or the respondent, somewhat obsolete.

Additional changes Towle summarized included the use of prior sexual history and mental health as evidence. The complainant’s prior sexual history is not considered relevant, their current relationship to the respondent may be considered, but not as sufficient means to constitute consent in sexual misconduct, and only under very limited circumstances is information outside of the complainant and the respondent’s history considered. As for mental health, a party’s history will not be considered or documented without consent of the party.

The policy has also clarified the right to support advisers, submission lists of witnesses, questions, and direct testimonies. It also includes detailed considerations to the punishments for respondents if they are found responsible.

Other content that has remained unchanged is still just as relevant as these clarifications and additions. The content of the Handbook in its entirety is valuable for every student to know.

Towle encourages students with questions to reach out to her directly.