Written by Haley Horn, Asst. News Editor
On Friday, Dec. 13, Chief John Milby informed students that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) was investigating “allegations of sexual misconduct involving multiple Furman students.” On Monday, Feb. 3, President Davis updated students that, upon the conclusion of SLED’s investigation, “no criminal charges will be filed.”
While SLED and the Solicitor’s Office advised Furman that no criminal charges will be filed, Furman is continuing to investigate the allegations through the sexual misconduct process, as President Davis noted in her email.
According to Office Coordinator Melissa Nichols, Title IX is “a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination and governs how universities respond to concerns about sexual misconduct.”
The Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention (SHARP) committee, is also associated with the Title IX office. The committee focuses on “educating the campus community about discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct” and consists of “staff, students, faculty and a representative from the Julie Valentine Center.”
Nichols also indicated that departments “are in the early stages of determining what those conversations will look like.” She added, “I have met with other departments to identify additional ways to engage students in conversations about healthy sexuality, respect, consent and bystander intervention.”
In addition to the Title IX office and SHARP, Furman’s Police Department is actively involved in sexual misconduct cases. Like Nichols, Chief Milby emphasized the importance of interdependence between the three organizations on campus. According to Milby, “officers participate in campus initiatives and regularly meet with student groups to discuss crime prevention and reporting strategies. Officers also actively serve on the SHARP committee.”
Nichols also said she anticipates a new set of regulations for Title IX cases on university campuses to be announced later this year. Nichols plans to integrate them with Furman’s current policies and expects the adjudication process for sexual misconduct to remain mostly the same. The process currently includes an investigation by two impartial parties and a hearing before three Furman staff and faculty. However, the new federal regulations could give attorneys the chance to directly cross-examine their opposition.
Nichols is encouraging “students who are passionate about this issue to get involved with SHARP.” Chief Milby said the committees meet on a monthly basis and welcome new members. There are also opportunities to get involved with Sexual Assault Awareness Week. This year, from April 1-8, there are “a number of events, including CLPs, and the Take Back the Night event” reported Milby. Students interested in joining SHARP can contact Kristin Irwin or Kate Taber.