Excepting Mediation, University Opts to Follow Obama Rules

CORRECTION (11/6/17 at 6:30 p.m.): A quote by University Title IX Coordinator Supria Kuppuswamy that stated mediation has been offered at Emory and that Kuppuswamy is “pretty sure” it has happened at Emory has been removed. Kuppuswamy was not privy to Emory’s practices because she was not employed by Emory before Oct. 2. In addition, a sentence stating that Kuppuswamy said that mediation was an acceptable method to resolve sexual assault cases under the Obama-era Title IX guidelines was removed after the Wheel reviewed the recording of the interview. The sentence has been changed to state that Kuppuswamy said mediation is an acceptable method to resolve sexual assault cases.

 

Emory University will continue to follow the Obama-era rules with the exception of mediation after it reviewed the interim Title IX guidelines, according to University Title IX Coordinator Supria Kuppuswamy.

Kuppuswamy, who replaced Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion Lynell Cadray as Emory’s Title IX coordinator Oct. 2, told the Wheel that mediation was an acceptable method to resolve sexual assault cases.

The Obama administration disallowed mediation in sexual misconduct cases. Mediation, an informal process with monitored sessions between the accuser and the accused, was not allowed under the Obama-era guidelines for fear that victims would feel pressured to participate and forced to face their offenders in person. Emory’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, which was last revised September 2016, states that “mediation is not appropriate, even on a voluntary basis, for sexual assault allegations.”

Cadray, who was the former Title IX coordinator, did not respond to multiple requests for clarification about Emory’s use of mediation.

Kuppuswamy said that Emory plans to consider mediation as an option in handling cases moving forward. According to the interim guidelines released last month, mediation allows the accused and the accuser in sexual misconduct cases to reach a “voluntary resolution” if both parties consent to the mediation.

Cadray will continue to serve as the vice provost for equity and inclusion, and Kuppuswamy is serving as a special assistant to Cadray. The Title IX coordinator is the designated agent responsible for coordinating the University’s Title IX compliance efforts, according to Emory’s website. The role involves monitoring University policy related to Title IX, such as grievance procedures; notifying the University community and impacted individuals; investigating and disposing complaints; and providing educational materials and training for the community.

As the new Title IX coordinator, Kuppuswamy said she hopes to increase visibility of Title IX protocols and implement new programs for the Emory community.

“It’s our hope to get our community engaged more in trying to prevent sexual harassment and violence on campus,” Kuppuswamy said.

Kuppuswamy is currently “working on a strategic plan” to inform students that the Office of Equity and Inclusion is a resource for students to report sexual assault. She declined to provide details on what will be in the strategic plan or when it will be released.

Emory announced Sept. 22 that it would continue following Obama-era Title IX guidelines concerning sexual misconduct while reviewing new guidelines implemented by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

The changes, which include the option to use a lower standard of evidence for sexual misconduct cases, were intended to increase the rights of students accused of sexual assault, DeVos said. The Department of Education believed that Obama policies lacked “the most basic elements of fairness and due process,” according to a statement from acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson.

Kuppuswamy said that the Department of Education has a “strong focus on evening the playing field.”

Cadray told the Wheel that the role of the Title IX coordinator has “expanded in terms of volume.”

“It wasn’t as complex [four years ago] as it is today,” Cadray said.

Kuppuswamy worked for Emory School of Law’s Career Center from 2006 to 2009 before moving to New York to work for law firms Chadbourne & Parke and later Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

“She had been at Emory before — that was key for me,” Cadray said when asked why she thought Kuppuswamy was a good fit for the Title IX coordinator role.

Kuppuswamy received a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University (Tenn.) and a juris doctor from Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.).

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