Beyond Title IX: Examining Sexual Misconduct at Olin

The last few years have seen an enormous change in how sexual misconduct is perceived and addressed at colleges and universities across the country, and Olin is no exception. Our college’s culture has drastically shifted from “it can’t happen here” to “shit, it does”. Kate Maschan ’15 created and published the results of a survey showing that in the sample (482 responses, drawing from the student body in 2013-2014 and alums), rates of sexual misconduct at Olin were easily on par with those of many colleges in the US (around 1 in 5 cisgender women and 1 in 20 cisgender men reported being sexually assaulted during their time at Olin). This led to the creation of the Peer Advocates for Sexual Respect and the first rumblings of discussion about consent culture at Olin.

High-profile cases nationwide pointed toward intimidating reporting processes and poor accountability in punishing these crimes on the part of colleges. This led to an enormous, government-driven legal scaffolding of handling reports of sexual misconduct on campus. This falls legally under Title IX (check out, a law geared toward ensuring no student is denied an equal opportunity for education because of sex-based discrimination. Title IX and the Campus SaVE Act now give colleges both guidelines and requirements for interacting with reporters of sexual misconduct and investigating their cases.

In light of the national stage in which this conversation is unfolding, we have to turn attention to Olin. The Sexual Respect Team (SRT) comprised of representatives from several on-campus organizations have been working to research Title IX, the Campus SaVE Act, Olin College policies, and more. We, as this small group, hope with this knowledge to engage all of us, as the Olin community, to reflect and through actionable conversation improve upon the support the college provides. The team is Austin Greene ‘17 (R2), Ellie Funkhouser ‘17 (CORe), Gabrielle Ewall ‘17 (Peer Advocate), Jessica Diller ‘16 (Peer Advocate), and Victoria Preston ‘16 (Honor Board); our community is every student, faculty, staff, and administration member.

Given the huge expanse of topics to discuss yielded by research, we need to determine what questions we want to ask as a community. In a particular example, we could examine how Olin treats reporters – what are their rights, when are they informed of these, and what pressures act on them? Are they pushed to report to StAR but not the police or Babo? Are they ever pushed to not report at all? What timelines are they given, and what support? What procedures need to be set in stone, or should all be at the discretion of StAR?

The dynamics around keeping our campus safe can be thorny, complicated, and intimidating in such a tight bubble. This stuff can be tough to engage in (especially considering the layers of law and precedent that coat it all) and a lot is still up in the air.
Olin is still figuring this stuff out, and we are in a position to shape our future policies and campus culture..

The SRT will be hosting a huge campus-wide brainstorming session in November around Olin’s policies, particularly to determine that they align with what students (and faculty and staff) feel is crucial and fair. Look forward also to several October events: bystander training with BARCC, a Title IX and Campus SaVE overview with MIT’s Title IX coordinator, and Honor Board hearing panel pool training.

As ever, if you have any questions, comments, concerns, anything – the R2s and PAs are happy to listen and provide information or advice as desired, the HB is always happy to answer questions about fairness and policy, and CORe wants to represent your interests to the administration.

‘Hi’ From Graham

Hello from an alum! I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time at Olin since I graduated, and it’s been an absolute pleasure to watch the community grow and grow with each passing year. Things have already changed so much, I’m excited for you and all of the opportunities at your disposal now, especially the ones you’ve chosen to make for yourselves.
I remember the first few weeks of the academic year, and how overwhelming it was (especially for those of you careening out of orientation) to pick and choose just what to actually do, out of all the exciting possibilities.
Well, I’d like to offer some help on this front. I can’t tell you what you want to do, but I did compile a few lists of Olin opportunities during my alumni weekend visit that I can share. Note: The information herein may not be 100% accurate – *****
Getting around: Did you know the MBTA has a city bus that travels from Needham Center to the green line? The 59 is about a 25-minute walk from Olin, or a 5-minute drive/bike ride. You can transfer to the 70 at the terminus to go straight to Central Square, or the 71 to get to Harvard Square. Careful – it stops running around 7pm! However, Marco Morales has informed me that taking UberPool from downtown to Olin can cost under $20, and a regular Uber for not much more! Could be worth it for the right-sized groups, and saves you the last-minute helpme. Depending on where you’re going and your schedule, the Commuter Rail leaves Wellesley even on the weekends, and later into the evening, and costs the same as a T fare + gas money to your lift. The Babson shuttle has its perks, as does the Wellesley college Peter Pan bus. It also may be worth your time to get Olin Van trained in case your club wants to take an outing, but nobody has a car.
Food: Short but sweet. The dining hall will gladly pack you a lunch if you ask a day in advance. Talk to a cashier! Trim dining hall opens at 9am on Saturdays, if you’re awake then, but 11 on Sundays, so no dice there. The Lulu Chow Wang dining hall at Wellesley admits all Olin students – just write your Student ID number on their sign-in sheet. Since the two colleges have different Thanksgiving and Spring breaks, this might leave you a little less stranded over the holidays than you’d have been otherwise!
Resources: I knew about some of these during my time at Olin, learned about others during happy chance encounters with Dakota Nelson and Meg McCauley, then filled in the list thanks to ideation with Alex Crease, and Ryan Louie – thanks all! So, did you know that all Olin Community members receive free entry to the ICA, MFA, and Isabella Stewart Gardiner museums in Boston? Have you tried the frisbee golf course? It’s highly regarded by serious players as a top-quality course, and I recall one man come through whose mission was to play a course in all 50 states… and he chose ours to represent Massachussets! In that vein, many Babson and Wellesley sports are open to Oliners, including very low-commitment intramurals, or simply the Babson Gym and rink or the Wellesley boat house. All three are definitely worth a visit, if only just to say you’ve been.
In a similar vein, poke your noses into a welding session, the ECE and MECH:E stockrooms, and your faculty/NINJA’s/writing tutor’s office hours. For this last one, you really don’t need to come up with an excuse or reason to be there. They’ve set the time aside specifically to talk with you… who knows what great conversations might arise! Similarly, organizations such as SWE and the Foundry exist to help you. SWE is successful when people who didn’t realize they wanted to go to conferences get to go to conferences. The Foundry has stand-up Fridays to help motivate, inspire, and facilitate projects by Oliners. Talk to them even if you don’t think you’re interested in presenting or starting your own business. There’s lots for you there!
Another organization that exists purely for your satisfaction is the Library. This is a cool one, because they have a ton of money to throw at making your studying/sitting/being experience as positive as possible. You can work in all kinds of spaces in the library. Meet, ideate, confer, pair-program, play music, chill… you name it, and there’s a nicely curated place for it! I also personally believe that you’re mistaken if you don’t have at least one library book out on loan (in a rotation!) for your entire time at Olin. You can’t read more if you don’t have something to read! Check out inter-library loans for even more options.
Community: This is secretly the best part of the list. Congrats for finding it! In addition to being enjoyable in its own right, building relationships with other people makes you a more effective person. Talking with people in your community gets you input, insight, and influence that you wouldn’t have otherwise. And don’t for a second think that you’re putting the other party out by getting to know one another! Alumni set up the Banter program so we could reconnect with our beloved campus. Stay tuned for the launch in November – Email me for the FAQ. Staff and faculty are delighted to get to know the students on a more personal level. That’s why they run co-curriculars and come out to SAC events! Last year, Ian Hill publicized a note from Rick Miller: If he’s ever in the dining hall eating by himself, he welcomes students to sit with him. I did, the Friday of the reunion weekend. And unsurprisingly, he had a very interesting perspective to share! Finally, there’s me. If you know me, you should know you can always reach out to me about whatever you’re up do/dealing with. If you don’t know me, maybe you could. I try to know a lot about how to get things done at Olin, so I might be able to help you out. What’s in it for me? I want to stay connected and help others connect. You can help me achieve that just by saying hi.

#BOW (Sponsored Content)

Hey there,
I am your BOW ambassador. As ambassador, it’s my job to host a few really awesome BOW (that’s Babson – Olin – Wellesley) events, as well as facilitate cross campus club collaboration (I’ve mastered saying that five times fast.) We had a club and sushi event in September, which some of you may have come to (and noticed how little sushi and how few shirts we had.) We want BOW to be awesome for everyone; we want BOW to be the thing people can’t stop talking about, we want people to have new ideas for cool BOW things every day. This relies on you.
As a member of BOW, you have the opportunity to make really cool things happen, and I will gladly help. We also have opportunities for you to get involved! We are working with the American Cancer Society to help set up a Relay for Life at Wellesley in the spring, and we are working with a Babson student who founded her own charity to host a really cool charity event (but this is top secret, unless you get involved with the planning.) There’s also a volunteer opportunity with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship – you and a team of BOW students could mentor and coach middle- and high-school students. And this is just the tip of the ice burg.
If you’d like to get involved with any of these volunteer opportunities (and you totally should), if your club is ready to get planning with BOW, or if you have the most amazing idea for a three-school event, let me know! The sky’s the limit, and anyone can be involved to whatever degree they desire. We also will be making more BOW $wagg, so you can be sure to get your own BOW shirt.
The school year has only just started – this year could be the year that BOW becomes a “thing.” The only way it will, though, is if you get involved. Happy BOWing!

Service Activity Updates at Olin!

Red Cross Blood Drive: Organized by Michael Resnick
On Friday, October 16th the Red Cross will be on campus from 11:00am to 5:00pm to collect blood donations!
To volunteer at the registration desk and snack table, which needs about 10 people, or to donate blood please see Michael’s email for the sign-up sheet and more information.

Big Brother Big Sister College Campus Program: Olin and Babson College
Two Oliners are participating as a Big!
The Bigs have been assigned will travel to their Little’s community for their first meeting in the third week of October!

Adam and Doyung have spent the summer working on renovating the E-Disco/SERV stockroom to create a better space to support collaboration and ideation for their events and activities in the community.
The E-Disco team spent the summer restructuring the program. More experienced E-Disco member will mentor new members in designing a course, connecting with interesting schools, and teaching their course.
E-Disco members will do weekly or bi-weekly activities, such as Bottle Rockets and Storybook Engineering throughout the Fall.

Jimmy Fund Walk: Olin College Group organized by Sally Phelps
On Sunday, Sept. 27th, 8 members of the Olin community walked 13 miles (2nd half of the Boston Marathon) in honor of Michael Moody, Olin’s former VP of Academic Affairs, as well as other friends and family members who have fought, or are currently fighting cancer!
You can still help the team by donating up until October 19th! Please contact Sally Phelps for the team page.

Hub on Wheels: Organized by Human-Powered Vehicle
On Sunday, September 20th, eight Oliners (and two alum!) volunteered at the Hub on Wheels bike ride in Boston, some helping at registration and others riding as bike marshals.

Peer Advocates: Team of Twelve Students; Led by Ellie Funkhouser and Jessica Diller
The Peer Advocates team has been busy getting trained and planning community outreach and education and seminar events within Olin and with outside advocate organizations like BARCC, REACH, and Babson and Wellesley peer advocate programs

“Universal Access” Adaptive Biking Program: Led by Mary Martin as part of Sara Hendren’s Assistive Adaptive Work
Sara and Mary are proposing a new adaptive biking program in Cambridge on Memorial Drive next summer has been proposed to make the current weekly “Riverbend Park”—which closes all four lanes on Sundays from 12-6 in the summer—more accessible to people with disabilities who want to use adaptive biking gear and other “universal” wheeled mobility.
The future volunteer program will connect people who couldn’t ride bikes on their own with volunteers who can assist, creating both a fun activity for the people involved and raising awareness about accessibility. The work involves creating a volunteer training and schedule, working with accessibility experts and the park district, getting donated or funded bikes of all kinds arranged, etc.
Talk to Mary Martin or Sara Hendren if you would like to learn more about the proposal and development of the program

The Food Recovery Network: Led by Mackenzie Frackleton with GROW
Partnering with the Food Recovery Network to donate uneaten, prepared food from the dining hall to the Salvation Army to combat both wasted food and hunger
Currently scheduling the first date for donation!

Reusable Travel Mugs in the DH: Led by Ruby Spring, Celina Berkins, Anisha Nakagawa and Aaron Greiner with GROW
Waiting on the final purchasing permission to get reusable cups in the DH to reduce the number of disposable cups used
Will be looking for volunteers to help collect mugs from bins in the dorms and AC in the Fall

SERV can make transportation more accessible for people doing service activities off-campus! Please contact us for more information on transportation methods and support if you are interested.

Do you participate in service-related activity within or outside of Olin? If so and you would like your work to be included in Service Updates in future Frankly Speaking issues, please email Kelly Brennan & Michael Searing.

Community, Not Class

Can you subtract by four? Could you switch out a single word from your daily discourse? Then you, my friend, are capable of making a language shift that will both change Olin’s culture and better reflect who we are. I’m talking about “Community Identification.”
What is this change? Easy. Stop identifying by graduating year, and instead identify by the year you started being a part of the Olin community. For example, instead of saying that the current first-years are the “Class of 2019,” we would say that they’re “Community 2015.”
Why would we want to do this? Firstly, it breaks the barriers between students and alumni in a way that reflects our Olin community. Graduating class identification separates students and alumni in a very simple way: current students have a date in the future, and alumni have a date in the past. The latter implies that alumni have left Olin completely. But just because somebody has graduated doesn’t imply that they are no longer a part of our family; once an Oliner, always an Oliner. Under Community Identification, were recognize how long alumni have been a part of our larger community.
Second, community identification egitimizes alternative student experiences, such as LOAs and withdrawals. For example, I took a semester off, and no longer will graduate in 2016. Although I will technically receive a degree in 2017, I will stop attending Olin next December. To say that I’m a part of the class of 2017 is socially wrong, but to say I am a part of the class of 2016 is just factually incorrect. Most LOAers resolve this by calling themselves “Class of X.5,” but that separates them from their entering community in a weird way. No longer will delayed graduation cause such a class identify crisis. I’m simply a part of the Community of 2012, and when I graduate doesn’t matter nearly as much as that fact.
Thirdly (and I’m sure some people will find this contentious), it can recognize faculty and staff as Oliners. These people, employees of the college, are also part of our community. Students and faculty/staff who enter Olin in the same year have some shared experience, and that should be recognized in our language.
(Some people have pointed out to me that the linguistic difference between faculty and students is useful. I agree! I’m not proposing that we do away with the faculty/staff/student (or even alumni!) community names, just that we adopt them as a part of the larger Olin community. One could identify as “Staff, community 2010” or “Faculty, community 2006.” Or, in the case of students who work here later, they could say “Alumni and Staff, communities 2008 and 2014, it’s complicated.”)
You may wonder what community identification does to traditional class names, like Senior, Sophomore, etc. I’m not saying that we should necessarily do away with these names altogether, but we could, in time, use community identification to replace them. So when people ask you ” what year are you?” you could simply respond with “Community 2013” instead of “a Junior” and people would know how long you’ve been here (which is way more useful that knowing how much longer you have). The terms would probably co-exist, in practice.
This isn’t a perfect proposal. But it’s totally better than Class Identification. It’s unifying language: it recognizes all of us as Oliners. And although it may be awkward at first, switching our language as a community would speak a lot about what Olin is. We’re not just a college, we’re a collection of people that grow every year and interact in new ways all the time.
So let’s stop measuring by endings (that are honestly pretty arbitrary) and instead by beginnings. Try it for a month, see how you like it. Give me feedback on what it’s like for you to use it, and we can modify this approach to fit us more as a community. This can be a living, growing effort, just like Olin itself.
/Thanks to Greg Marra and Marco Morales, who introduced this idea to me last year at SLACfest./

Let’s talk about race and ethnicity

LA’s South Bay will always be my stomping ground. The predictable sunniness is more than heartwarming, and I have a soft spot for the grittiness of urban living. But, my favorite is the amount of cultural cross-pollination that naturally results from being one of the most ethnically and socioeconomically diverse counties in America.

But as much as I love Olin and as much as I have grown here, I can’t help but think that last piece is what’s missing.

I don’t have an overwhelmingly huge problem with Olin’s racial diversity deficit. Administration is making an effort. This past August, Provost Vin Manno signed a White House/American Society of Engineering Education pledge committing to increasing campus diversity and inclusiveness. Admissions Dean Emily Roper-Doten is working on, to quote her recent email, “creating an admissions process that is equitable and supports students of all backgrounds, especially those from low-income families or those traditionally underrepresented in college.”

No. What I find more troubling is the reluctance to learn from those fundamentally different from ourselves – outside of a small group of friends. We have no problem sharing the whacky, off-the-wall we do inside and outside class. I’m always impressed! But, I want to get to know my peers as whole people, not just as engineers-in-training.

Changing the school’s numbers on paper means nothing if we students don’t know how to identify and embrace each others’ uniqueness. I’m talking about here and now, not the fuzzy, distant future when administration’s plans have been defined and executed. We Oliners value harmony, and naturally so. It’s a tiny community. By refraining from recognizing differences and sticking to safe topics, we reduce the risk of offending our friends, neighbors, peers.

The result is a clean, neutral space. But where is the vibrancy in that?

If we fail to acknowledge the impact that any axis of diversity – ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, religion, whatever – has on a person’s background and experiences, we are invalidating chunks of identity. If we avoid our peers’ differences instead of embracing them, then we are silencing what makes each individual unique. If I want to be a thoughtful human being, let alone an effective designer and engineer, I can’t afford to ignore the dimensionalities of a person. I can’t even abstain, because every conversation I abstain from means that I am losing knowledge and insight.

I don’t have any formula or magic bullet. But I believe that if we can discard our discomfort, we can navigate this space together.

Ethnic Breakdown of Classes 2014 – 2017

For anyone that’s curious, this is what the student body looked like when I was a freshman. Data from former Dean of Admissions Charlie Nolan, compiled Summer 2014. His breakdowns are percentages, which I understand might not be the best representation of a tiny student population. Quoting Charlie: “1) These are self-reported data as indicated on the Common App. 2) The Common App added “multiracial” for ℅ 2016. 3) There are likely more underrepresented students who are more than one race or ethnicity or, who list themselves as multi-racial or don’t declare a race or ethnicity.”