L ast week, The Daily Pen nsylvanian reported that this year marks the fourth year in a row that the University has failed to publish an annual report on student disciplinary matters at Penn. For the fourth year in a row, the student body has no way of knowing how Penn has investigated and dealt with disciplinary infractions committed at Penn in the last year. Effectively, for the fourth year in a row, the Penn community has no quantitative way of measuring the administration’s decisions regarding academic violations or potential threats to our safety .
This is unacceptable.
Last year, the Office of Student Conduct attributed this failure to technical difficulties in compiling statistics and adapting to a new record-keeping system. These issues cannot be exclusive to Penn — Columbia, Yale and Brown surely face the same logistical challenges when sorting large amounts of data. However, those three schools have published comprehensive reports on student crime and sexual assault statistics, including the number of violations and the responses taken by the universities. Even if the logistical issues of reporting information were, for some reason, insurmountable at the time, it has been over a year since the OSC released that statement, which would be plenty of time for them to develop a more efficient way of sorting through data — if it was really a priority for them.
Furthermore, it is completely astounding to us that those holding OSC accountable have not taken it upon themselves to work harder in order to prevent oversights like this from occurring. At what point was the University planning on mobilizing? After another four years? This past generation of Penn students has no idea how the University has punished breaches of the student and academic codes, as well as alleged perpetrators of sexual assault. How many more classes would have to come and go without the administration taking on a more proactive level of action?
The OSC’s lack of transparency regarding cases of sexual assault is particularly egregious. As the DP reported last October , there is no set sanction for perpetrators of sexual assault — incidents are largely handled on a case-by-case basis. However, when the DP reached out requesting details about sanctions enacted over the previous two years, the OSC declined to comment on account of confidentiality concerns.
“Adequate details regarding the complexity of each case ... could not be shared without running the unacceptable risk of breaching our students’ confidentiality and expectations of privacy,” Michele Goldfarb , then-director of OSC, said. We fail to see how releasing a report with descriptions of cases and the disciplinary outcome with all names redacted is a breach of confidentiality and believe that students have the right to be informed about how the University responds to cases of sexual assault.
We are sure that there are a lot of things on the administration’s mind at the moment. Fundraising, research, student safety — all are important. However, the continued failure of the OSC to publish a disciplinary report — and its refusal to disclose important information that many other schools have taken it upon themselves to share with the student body — should be a much high er priority.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.