In the past, the process for filing a grievance against a member of the Knox community has been unclear to students. The Grievance Panel, which is charged with handling issues of discrimination and sexual misconduct, has instituted changes in response.
The panel made minor adjustments to its own timeline for submitting paperwork, but the changes that will most affect students involve new positions both on and off the panel, starting with the grievance coordinator. Sarah Moschenross, who also directs the McNair Program, now acts as the door through which all grievances must pass.
“Before, no one knew where to go to file a grievance,” junior and Grievance Panel member Greg Noth said. “Now we have [Moschenross]…it all starts with her.”
Once a student expresses his or her desire to Moschenross to have an incident go before the panel, he or she is then assigned a process advocate to help prepare them for and guide them through the hearing. Process advocates are familiar with how a Grievance Panel hearing works and can answer student questions and help prepare written statements. A student’s process advocate is also present at his or her hearing.
Students may also request to have an independent support person of their own choosing. While this person cannot attend the hearing, he or she provides moral and personal support through the grievance process.
“[The grievance process] is not an easy process for anyone involved,” Noth said. “Having someone that’s a comfort to you can help the process.”
During a hearing, the student who filed the grievance (the complainant) has the opportunity to present his or her case to the panel and bring forth witnesses to the incident in question. The accused party may also present his or her side of the story, provide his or her own witnesses and ask questions through his or her process advocate. The complainant and the accused never speak to each other directly during the hearing.
Noth stressed, however, that most grievances never make it to the hearing stage.
“It is normally pretty clear whether [school] policies were violated,” he said. “We try to settle things informally as much as possible.”
For grievances that do warrant a hearing, the panel can only decide on guilt. Sanctions must be issued by the Dean of Students; however, the panel typically provides a recommendation on what it thinks would be appropriate.
“It’s not just punishment,” Noth said. “It usually includes counseling.”
To convey this information to students, Noth spoke at the Allies for Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP) Forum on Thursday, Nov. 11. A “Sexual Assault Help” link has also been posted at the top of the “Current Students” page on the Knox website.
Noth hopes that increased publicity of the panel will lead to more students utilizing its services. Each year, many incidents occur that could go before the panel but do not, due to a lack of knowledge about the process.
“Our goal is to make sure students know [the panel] is a resource,” Noth said. “It’s important they know it exists.”
The Grievance Panel is comprised of two faculty members, two staff members and two students. Panel guidelines stipulate that students serving on the panel must be student Senators.
2010-2011 Grievance Panel members
Tom Moses, chair
Bobby Jo Maurer
Greg Noth ’12
Kenton Tilford ’13