Occidental Faculty Votes No Confidence in Dean on Assault Issue

Faculty at Occidental College, where students and alumni have filed a federal complaint about the school’s handling of sexual assaults, voted no confidence in its dean of students and college counsel.

In a session yesterday, faculty voted 70 to 6 with 4 abstaining in favor of a motion of no-confidence in College Counsel Carl Botterud, Faculty Council President Amy Lyford said in an e-mail. A similar motion regarding Dean of Students Barbara Avery passed 65 to 9, with 6 abstentions, Lyford said. The votes are non-binding.

A group of 37 Occidental students and alumni and faculty filed a complaint with the U.S. Education Department on April 19 saying that the school doesn’t meet federal standards for preventing and responding to sexual assaults. Students who claim the school failed to educate them about sexual assault and turned a blind eye to campus rape have hired Gloria Allred of Allred Maroko & Goldberg in Los Angeles, where Occidental is located, to represent them.

“We’ve hired national experts to help us address the issue of sexual assault on campus,” Occidental spokesman Jim Tranquada said in an e-mailed statement. “The college is committed to having the best policies, procedures and personnel in place to allow us to be a model for other colleges to follow.”

Occidental President Jonathan Veitch described the steps the school is taking to better address sexual assault in a May 1 e-mail. He wrote that Botterud has voluntarily recused himself from providing guidance on matters related to sexual assault.

“I agree that this decision is in the best interest of the college at this time,” Veitch said in the e-mail.

Allred didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

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