The Antioch College Sexual Offense Prevention Policy
Addendum A “Herstory: 1990-1996”
Two date rapes occurred on campus. There was a general feeling from the Community that the administration was responding with apathy and serious issues were not being dealt with. An organization of womyn calling themselves the Womyn of Antioch was formed. Womyn of Antioch wrote the original Sexual Offense Policy during a couple of late night meetings in the Womyn’s Center. The following Tuesday, they stormed Community Meeting, participated in a direct action in front of the Community, and presented the policy.
This original policy was quite questionable. It was not legally binding, no rights were given to the accused, and it called for immediate expulsion of the accused with no formal process. (This original document can be found in the Antioch Student Survival Guide/Handbook, in our archives, Antiochiana or through Community Government.) It was a bumpy beginning but it was just that…. a beginning.
A half-time Advocate position was developed. It marked the birth of the Sexual Offenses Prevention and Survivors’ Advocacy Program (SOP/SAP). The first focus of this new position was to write an official policy with Community input. Six to eight open Community Meetings were held. All who were interested in having their voices a part of this process (including staff, faculty and administrators) were encouraged to attend. It was in these meetings that Community Members wrote the policy themselves. It was in these meetings that our definition of consent was written: “the act of willingly and verbally agreeing to engage in specific sexual contact or conduct”.
There are two distinct things that made Antioch’s policy so different than any other that has ever showed up on a college campus. The first is our definition of consent. The second is the fact that sexual offenses are seen as not just a violation of an individual, but as a violation of the Antioch Community. Non-consensual sexual activity is against Community Standards.
The 1991-1992 school year is when the first official draft of the Antioch Sexual Offense Policy was approved by our Administrative Council and our Board of Trustees. The half-time Advocate position became full-time and a 24-hour crisis line through the SOP/SAP office was created.
As the story goes…it was the summer of 1993 and a student was co-oping on the West Coast. A University of California campus newspaper was writing a piece on sexual violence on campus. The writer of this piece had learned of the Antioch policy from the co-op student and wrote about it. The Associated Press thought it was fascinating (apparently) because across the AP wire came this little blurb about a school in Ohio with “sex rules”.
The media hounded the campus. We were on the front page of the Washington Post, The New York Times; on every newsmagazine show on TV; Saturday Night Live, etc. For the most
part the media missed the point of the policy. We were misrepresented and a lot of them just plain made stuff up. We all got really tired of the media attention, really fast.
Students, for the most part, remained in good spirits. Eventually the harsh media focus died down. The best outcome of all this craziness was the number of requests for the policy we got from other campuses who have since used our policy to help shape their own campus policies that deal with the issues of sexual violence.
From the beginning, the Antioch Sexual Offense Policy has been considered a work in progress. We knew there were flaws and in the years following 1992, after being in place for five years, these flaws became more apparent. For example:
-Community Members tried to use the policy only to be met by outside lawyers stepping in and stopping campus process.
-People who had been violated on campus were not using the policy.
-Gray areas grew as more people asked for clarity concerning certain aspects of the policy.
Also, as the years passed, people who wrote the policy graduated and new students’ voices needed to be integrated so that the policy could continue to be a “Community” policy. It was recognized that revisions needed to be made.
The revision process was a bit more formal than the original writing of the policy. A committee was formed that included staff, students and administrators and again open Community Meetings were held for anyone interested in having input. Some of the goals of the revision:
-Clean it up.
-Add a strong focus on prevention and safety.
-Rewrite sections under close supervision and approval from the college lawyer so that it becomes a stronger document - one that would prevent outside lawyers from stepping in and stopping Community process.
After a 6-month period of revision, there were some changes. One being its name, the Antioch Sexual Offense Policy became the Antioch Sexual Offense Prevention Policy(SOPP). Mostly though, there were additions, one of which was:
While Antioch exists within a larger society governed by existing laws, it is also part of Antioch’s mission to strive for the betterment of both the individual and society. Thus, our standards for behavior may be broader than currently exist under state and federal laws. These Community Standards are part of Antioch’s educational mission, to be dealt with through on-campus administrative means as part of the educational process. Community Members are expected to respect and uphold these standards.
During the revision process budget cuts unfortunately and questionably hit the SOP/SAP office. The program was cut in half and the Advocate position became half time. The final draft was finished May 16, 1996 and it was approved by our Administrative Council and Board of Trustees.