Del Mar, Collegiate officials ready to investigate complaints
A Collegiate High School senior says she recently was verbally and sexually harassed by a Del Mar College student on the East Campus, saying the Del Mar student requested sexual favors from her.
With Del Mar College being a nontraditional school and housing Collegiate High School, students from various age groups are contained together on one campus. The process for sexual harassment investigations varies slightly for each.
“We need to educate our students on how you don’t have to be nice but you don’t have to be rude if some strange person is bothering you,” said Monique Moreno, dean of student services at Collegiate High School.
One form of sexual violence recently being brought more into the public eye is sexual harassment, which refers to unwanted sexual advances and remarks, which could lead to sexual assault. This includes whistling, leering or making obscene comments.
Unwanted physical contact, such as touching an someone’s clothing, hair or body, is also considered harassment. It can also include nonphysical contact, such as flashing someone.
Under Del Mar policy, sexual harassment falls under the policy on prohibiting sexual violence.
Diana Ortega-Feerick, assistant dean of Student Engagement and Retention, investigates student misconduct under the student misconduct policy and the Title IX act, if meets the definition.
“We handle student complaints, which can be nonacademic complaints that come in; we also cover student conduct,” Ortega-Feerick said.
If the sexual harassment act does not meet the Title IX definition, which prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions, the school can still file a student conduct violation for the victim(s) if it meets the student conduct (A7.21.3) definition, which is very specific:
“A7.21.3 Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is, generally, unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature by another student or Del Mar College employee, including Del Mar College administration, faculty or staff, or third parties participating in activities, work or programs of Del Mar College. Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors in exchange for educational benefits or as a condition of receipt of educational benefits, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent so as to unreasonably interfere with the student’s work performance or create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment. Sexual violence, a form of sexual harassment, is addressed in the District’s Policy Prohibiting Sexual Violence (B9.1).”
When filing under the student complaint policy, a student can file for academic but also nonacademic violations. While filing under sexual violence, the assistant dean of student services would follow the A7.13.5 Non-Scholastic, Student Misconduct Review Procedure, which can be found at http://dmc122011.delmar.edu/policymanual/pmcurrent/ch7/ch7.html#b7_12
Under violations, the process that the student engagement and retention deans use is known as the preponderance of evidence, which means more likely than not did the act happen. It includes interviewing the student(s)/staff that filed the report, the alleged student(s)/staff, and witness(es), if any.
“We normally start with a verbal warning or warning and escalate to possibly a warning with restriction, probation, mandating educational training, suspension and from there it goes to expelled,” Ortega-Feerick said about the possible outcomes that could happen.
According to the Annual Security and Safety report, Del Mar College from the years 2014-16 had one Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) report for domestic violence, at the Center for Economic Development. There have been no statistics for rape, dating violence or stalking on any DMC campuses in the report.
“There’s only one certain reason a person can be automatically suspended, pending an investigation,” Ortega-Feerick said. “According to our policies, is if it’s a physical assault, a weapon situation, or if the academy oversees it.”
During the investigation, offiails will provide outside and on-campus resources such as counseling. The Student Engagement and Retention center also hosts different services. In January, they will having a guest speaker for National Stalking Awareness Month.
“We want students to feel safe and sometimes we see certain behaviors come across that are uncivil and to need to be address but could possibly not be a violation of student code of conduct,” Ortega-Feerick said.
However, for any nonacademic violation situation covering a high school student who is not yet enrolled in college classes and a college student, the college and high school would work in conjunction to solve the investigation, with the high school using the K-12 policies and the college using its policies.
If it involved high school students who are enrolled in college classes, the assistant dean of Student Engagement and Retention would talk to the high school principal but more than likely, the investigator will handle it through DMC policies or Title IX.
With no tolerance to any violence, Collegiate High School plans to educate students through its Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) education classes about the definitions of sexual violence and how to speak up.
“I want to be sure students can come and talk to us if anybody is making them feel uncomfortable,” Moreno said. “Students need to be aware.”