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The Knox Student

Title IX discussions continue at president-hosted forum

Title IX discussions continue at president-hosted forum

In a continued response to the protests at the end of last term, Knox College President Andrew McGadney hosted a forum on Mar. 29. The following is a summary of the first two hours of the forum.

“It’s important to investigate the facts, it’s important to get all sides of things, it’s important to not make blanket statements on things.” McGadney said.

McGadney confirmed that he plans to have external, independent reviewers come in. They will take a look at Knox’s Title IX process as well as the policies for parties on campus. There is the potential for students to be involved in this review process. He said that there are plans to involve student organizations, based on faculty suggestion.   

He also addressed the calls to fire various Knox employees,

“That’s not something I’m going to entertain. This is a process of how people work, and how people grow. This is not the process of someone telling me to fire someone and I fire them.” He said.

Senior Eva Fuller expressed concerns about the review process making changes that would not last as students graduate and new students enter the community. McGadney assured her that the process would be repeated every three years. There is also the possibility that the external reviewers will recommend things to do on an annual basis. 

Senior Isaiah Simon suggested that the review process should also take historical accounts under consideration. Simon specifically recommended alumni and the Knox archives as sources for understanding Knox’s history with incidents surrounding race. 

Dean of the College Mike Schnieder agreed.

“History is powerful and should be revisited. There was a previous example of students talking in front of faculty about their experiences and it [had] a profound impact. We do want to focus on the institutional history,” he said.

Students brought up concerns about how the administration and faculty handles issues surrounding race.

“When discussing institutional racism, there’s an extreme power dynamic. When people talk about admin versus student, it’s because that has been the case historically,” Simon said. “You listen to your superior, and they ask you ‘how are you doing’ and if the answer you give is not what they want to hear, they will be upset with you.”

The discussion then shifted to the question of how much actual change students can expect going forward.

“We can make changes on all of those things, which we have, but unfortunately the truth is that bad apples are going to be bad apples on this campus, and I wish we could say that with all the reviews and the changes that will happen on campus that it will never happen again, but that is not going to happen,” said McGadney.

Some students took issue with McGadney’s response. Many expressed the fact that they were not asking for a perfect solution, only for safety and actionable, visible change. 

McGadney further explained specific structural changes that can be expected. One large change will be adding new people into the Chief Financial Officer position, as it is currently one person managing those responsibilities alone. The administration is also actively making changes to the bias report system based on student responses. 

Junior Cheshire Aikka and senior Manny Piña Oviedo brought up the occasions on which staff interact with certain student organizations differently than others. Oviedo called for the building of community between staff and students. 

“We go to lengths [at ABLE] to make our parties safe and be responsible, and are being responded to by staff with a disrespect that does not feel like they want us to be able to do anything,” Aikka said. 

The administration hopes to carry out the independent reviews before the end of spring term. More updates are showing up every week via emails from McGadney.

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