The IU Board of Trustees met Dec. 3 and 4 to discuss a wide range of topics, including an update on the ongoing IU presidential search, the national election’s possible effects on higher education, Title IX and a new construction plan for Bloomington’s campus.
The IU presidential search committee, which was set up after current President Micahel McRobbie announced his retirement set for in June, gave an update at Friday’s session. The committee has reviewed comments from public forums held and is currently reviewing candidates. Its goal is to make a final decision by spring 2021.
Doug Wasitis, the IU assistant vice president for federal relations, presented to the board updates from the 2020 presidential election. He explained policies the President-elect Joe Biden's administration is looking at and how proposals the Association of American Universities will be putting forward could affect higher education.
Wasitis discussed how Biden’s economic recovery plan includes proposals for student loan forgiveness and a pledge to make community college and historically black colleges and universities free and make public colleges and universities free for lower income families.
Proposals to the administration from the Association for American Universities plan to include protecting DACA recipients until formal legislation can be put in place, reversing Trump’s executive orders and proclamations surrounding international students and rewriting Title IX, which was just recently changed in May.
IU Title IX coordinator Emily Springston gave an annual report at the meeting Thursday on the number of Title IX complaints seen for the 2019-20 school year. There were 244 reports of sexual misconduct for IU-Bloomington. She said this is slightly lower than in years past where the number has been in the mid- to high-200 and said one possible reason for this was IU closing and going online in March due to COVID-19.
Of the 244 reports, a little over 100 of them were sexual assault, with about 19 of those going through a formal resolution process. In 59 of the about 100 sexual assault reports, survivors requested no action be taken.
Springston also shared results from the formal university procedures in sexual misconduct which included for IU-Bloomington sexual assault cases two expulsions, two suspensions, one probation, three listed as no finding and 10 alternative resolution agreements. Examples she gave were agreements including counseling and education or voluntary removal from campus.
There were also a reported 39 IU-Bloomington faculty and staff sexual misconduct reports which include complaints made by employees from fellow employees or by students about an employee. A little more than 30 of them were categorized as sexual harassment and three were categorized as sexual assault.
Confidential victim advocates served about 337 individuals for Bloomington's campus. These advocates can help survivors decide what actions are best for them without having to report the case to authorities or the Title IX office.
Jackie Simmons, IU’s vice president and general counsel, addressed how the Trump administration policy of cross examinations at hearings may be making survivors not want to go through the process.
Student trustee Molly Connor also said the policy changing often is not helpful for students.
“The constantly changing policies also serve as a deterrent to students reporting,” she said. “This process is incredibly complex, incredibly difficult to understand and that can dissuade students from wanting to be involved in this system in the first place especially when it changes too frequently.”
The policy may change again under the Biden administration.
The board also approved plans for three new construction projects, one of which will be on Bloomington’s campus. It will be a green space to replace a parking lot located between Luddy Hall and the Multidisciplinary Science Building II. Called the Northwest Quad, the parking site lost by its creation will be replaced by the parking structure included in the new Luddy Center.
The next meeting will be held virtually Feb. 4 and 5.