Kat Namon ’22
Trinity’s Student Government Association met for their weekly meeting this past Sunday evening, Oct. 25, to discuss topics that ranged from the current count of coronavirus cases on campus, to the interim Title IX policy that was crafted by members of the community this past summer. The meeting was led by SGA president Giovanni Jones ’21, who was accompanied by Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Anita Davis, Dean of Students Joe DiChristina, Associate Dean of Students Rob Lukaskiewicz, and Assistant Dean of Students Jody Goodman.
The meeting continued with a discussion on potential ideas for socially distanced activities during which first-year students would have the opportunity to bond with and meet other members of their class. Jones stated that they had received multiple comments from parents of first-year students voicing concerns about the lack of interactions the students have had with each other. Gabrielle Desrochers ’24 spoke for her grade in adding that she could “attest to the fact that we’ve been feeling isolated…” She suggested that the first-years need “the feeling of having a network of other students,” and proposed that the SGA organize a socially-distanced food-truck festival for an upcoming weekend. She also proposed the idea of an election day themed event, which Dean Goodman met with enthusiasm. On the subject of election day, she informed the students that she would be sending out a message to the community with further details on how the College will be addressing the election and what kinds of events will be taking place on campus.
DiChristina added that he also hopes to ensure that events such as these occur as we enter back into the green alert level, which allows for small outdoor gathers and even some gatherings indoors. He assured the first-years at the meeting that “we will pull something for this upcoming weekend… it would be helpful for our first years to have that sense of belonging here… it won’t just be something that we are talking about.”
Jones then transitioned the subject of the meeting to the current situation regarding coronavirus cases, to which Goodman stated that “our numbers are way lower than they were last weekend around this time… hopefully we will keep that momentum going and can do some of these socially distanced in person programs.” DiChristina added that although it has been a “long couple of weeks,” he remains optimistic. Despite these low numbers at the College, DiChristina added that “clearly we all know that globally, nationally, the State of Connecticut is struggling with the numbers going up… it is fine for us to be here on campus… and allow people to interact in the appropriate way, but the whole idea of maintaining essential travel is what we want to pay attention to.” DiChristina also addressed the recent removal of 15 first-year students from campus after violating orange alert level guidelines in stating that “thankfully the students were honest with us… [it was] not [an] easy decision to be made, but for the benefit of the community, was to have the students study from home…”
Lukaskiewicz noted that the administration’s goal is to continue to do in person learning.” He added his thoughts on the current situation on campus, stating that “we seem to be in a good spot… I think if we do the right things in a good way we could have a pretty good next four weeks.”
When asked about what will be done to prevent an outbreak from an off-campus source from occurring again, Lukaskiewicz noted that this past Wednesday evening, he had met with “well over 20 off-campus apartments and houses” to discuss the next four weeks and their “health and safety plans.” He clarified that these houses are required to submit their health and safety plans to him to “account for some mistakes or things that have been overlooked in the past” and “raise the attention of all their housemates.” To this point, Jack Stone ’22 inquired about the protocol the administration is following to patrol off-campus locations. Łukasiewicz stated that the administration hired a “security firm… to encourage people to disperse if people gather.”
Jones then switched the topic of conversation to focus on the new, interim Title IX policy and invited Interim TItle IX Coordinator Rita Kelley and Davis to speak on what the task force had accomplished in rewriting the policy that we follow on campus.
DiChristina clarified that the previous regulations did not include “quid pro quo” sexual harassment, and the policy has now been altered to include this specific form of harassment. He also stated that the new policy covers domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
The focus then shifted to reviewing the formal complaint process, and Stone asked about the percentage of Title IX complaints that result in an informal resolution process. DiChristina stated that “over the last five years on average we have had 6 or 7 formal investigations.” He added that “we are currently working on a letter to the community that will give a four-year update on all student code of conduct violations, and [the] outcomes, with a section that will speak to what was referred to as sexual misconduct policy violations.” He stated that this report will likely be published in November, with the annual Clery Report.