DOJ meets with students to review Wheaton’s sexual assault policies

The Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted a compliance review of Wheaton’s response to sexual assault and harassment under Title IX. On April 5 and 6, the DOJ representatives held confidential meetings in the Merrill Room at the Wallace Library for students who wanted to talk about their experiences with Wheaton’s training, policies, procedures and resources for preventing and responding to sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Dean of Students Kate Kenny sent out an email prior to these meetings to inform students about this opportunity to meet with the DOJ representatives privately and in-person. Students who participated in these meetings were assured that they would be in control of the conversation and that the DOJ would talk only about the issues that the students were comfortable discussing.

“You will not be required to provide your name to DOJ.  DOJ will not be providing Wheaton with any names of students who come to meet with DOJ either in groups or in individual interviews,” wrote Kenny in her email. Students were also encouraged to bring advocates or someone they trusted to the meetings, if they needed it.

Kenny emphasized that these meeting remain highly confidential. This anonymity may make it hard for the Wheaton administration to know how to react to the meetings. “Information about these meetings was kept confidential. They did not give the college any feedback as to who attended or the content of these meetings,” Kenny said.

Without any way of knowing, the administration can only hope the meetings helped rather than hurt the investigation. “I hope that students who attended the open meetings with the DOJ representatives found them to be beneficial,” Kenny said, “I hope that the DOJ representatives found the time with students to be beneficial, as well.”

Ultimately, the Wheaton administration will continue to assist the DOJ as it examines Wheaton’s policies. “We look forward to continuing our cooperation with the DOJ as their investigation continues,” Kenny said.