As a follow-up to the article published in The Equinox Sept. 11th edition regarding the new Student Athlete Handbook policy on sexual misconduct, many students’ questions now have answers.
The handbook lists specific intake officers in various departments ranging from Fitness Center Manager to the Associate Vice President of Finance.
Director of Athletics John Ratliff, the driving force behind the addition to the Student Athlete Handbook, explained the reason behind these seemingly out-of-place resources.
“It’s not just for the students, it’s for the faculty staff as well. We needed to find participants in each area of the college so people would feel more comfortable reporting,” Ratliff said.
The list of intake officers was taken from the Student Handbook, so the officers chosen were not specific to the Athletic Department.
In addition to information taken from the KSC handbook, the information provided on amorous relationships was taken from the NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Association] and edited to connect to Keene State.
More information on reporting crimes through the silent witness program was provided by Campus Safety.
“We found out people didn’t know where to report things; they didn’t know where to send letters or who to talk to. So that’s what drove us to put the intake officers in the book. Silent witness is another option if they feel uncomfortable giving their name,” Ratliff said.
He continued to explain why names and contact information are also not listed with the intake officers.
“I did question if we should add that [contact information] because it’s keeping it one less step for them [the athletes], but my concern was that the position might change, a new person could take that position as this gets printed. So I was torn between doing it but we know these positions are the ones to go to even if the name changes,” Ratliff said.
“I think maybe next year we [will] put the names down,” Ratliff said.
Director of Human Resources Kim Harkness, along with Chief Officer of Diversity and Multiculturalism Dottie Morris, met with each team and the coaches to explain who to contact.
According to Ratliff, Harkness told athletes they can always go to their coach or the athletic director, but then the coach would be responsible for getting that information to an intake officer because those specific people have had the training.
“We want them [the athletes] to feel comfortable coming to me or the coach, unless the coach is the problem and even then they might feel uncomfortable with me because they know my relationship with the coach. So that’s why there are so many intake officers there,” Ratliff explained.
“Specifically there are two people in the athletic building who are intake officers,” Ratliff said.
One of Ratliff’s goals is to add a male intake officer in the gym so there is equal representation.
Considering the policy mentions that sexual harassment claims will be investigated or resolved informally or formally, but however it provides no information as to what an informal or formal investigation is.
Ratliff explained, “If a student came to me I would then ask, ‘Can I take this to the director of human resources?’ Then human resources would make the judgment and say, ‘Well no, thank you for giving this to us but right now we’re not going to do anything; keep an eye on it.’ If it rises to a level where they think sexual harassment has occurred then it would be a more formal investigation,” Ratliff said.
According to Ratliff, during the meetings with the athletic teams, Harkness provided an example of an informal and formal situation where she approached a student and would say, “That’s a beautiful pedicure you have,” which is a strange comment coming from a faculty member but maybe it was just a simple compliment.
However, if everyday that faculty member is waiting to see that student’s toes saying, “Wow, that’s a hot pedicure,” then it’s no longer an isolated incident and has become more persistent.
“Kim might ask, ‘Is that the only time they said that?’ Then that would be more informal. But if you go in saying ‘Everyday he’s waiting to check out my toes,’ that’s not okay. Then that would be a more formal complaint,” Ratliff said.
The athletic administration is making an effort to convey that these changes are important and people need to know the correct information.
“In order to work for us coaches [you] had to go through training,” Ratliff said.
Kendall Pope can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org