One junior’s final project for VIS 417: Extraordinary Processes was more than just a bit unusual. After a few ambiguous emails advertising the Sexual Misconduct Tours in Frist, I was confused and intrigued enough to learn more. I joined Kasturi Shah’s final tour on Monday night at 9:40 p.m. to find out for myself what exactly a Sexual Misconduct Tour could be.
The tour begins at the Frist Welcome Desk, where I meet three other students joining me on the tour. Kasturi, a junior with a Vis Art certificate, is conducting the tours for a project in VIS 417: Extraordinary Processes.
The tour outlines the procedure of the University’s new sexual misconduct policy, enacted in October in response to the Title IX investigation that the Federal Department of Education launched against the University. Kasturi told me that the University turned the policy into one unified text and “beefed it up to give it teeth.” But the written policy is long-winded, and not many people know about it, so Kasturi made the tours to raise awareness and clear things up.
Essentially, the tour runs like a choose-your- adventure, a living flow-chart that walks you through how the new policy works. The tour is interactive, and the path we take depends on the decisions we make and the questions we ask.
As we walk over to Café Viv, Kasturi proposes a scenario. Two nights ago, Dennis was walking a friend home from the street. My group didn’t ask about the gender of Dennis’ friend, so it remains unknown. Dennis wasn’t drunk, but things escalated in a way he didn’t want them to. Dennis thinks he has been raped.
“Pretend you are Dennis,” Kasturi tells us, giving gives us four actions that we (read: Dennis) can take. We can 1) report it to a Title IX administrator and request interim measures (housing change, dropping a class, exam schedule change), 2) file an internal complaint with the University, 3) file a report with Public Safety, who will forward the case to the police, and/or 4) file an external complaint (find an outside lawyer, etc). When my group decides to first report the incident to Public Safety, Kasturi marks the ground with two pieces of blue tape. (The blue tape comes out each time we make a decision.)
Kasturi leads our group outside, where we report the assault to a virtual p-safe officer, who forwards the investigation to the police. Kasturi marks another blue “x.”
Our group then decides to take further action and report the incident to a Title IX administrator. Kasturi leads us to the main Frist stairwell. We decide not to switch housing or drop a class, but we do alter our exam schedule. Another “x”. We then decide to file an internal complaint with the University.
“You are a Title IX administrator,” Kasturi tells us (part of the tour, Kasturi tells me, is role-playing, which means stepping into different shoes and understanding all the perspectives involved). We decide that the incident does violate sexual misconduct policy.
The case is forwarded to three-person panel, and Kasturi guides us downstairs to Frist Gallery. When we decide to continue with further action, we walk to the top of the basement stair. There, acting as the three-person panel, the group recommends suspension to the Dean. We become the Dean, and approve the decision. I become the respondent, and my other groups members become Dennis again. No one decides to appeal the decision.
The tour ends with another blue “x”.
The coolest part of the tour: like the real-life application of the policy, no two tours are the same. Kasturi told me that she hadn’t run an identical course on any of the 30+ tours she’s given over the past three days. The initial scenarios changed (one involved a student and a faculty member), but the path was altered most by the questions people asked on the tour and the (often heated) debates the group members got into. In one scenario in which a claimant reported that they had been raped, someone asked “How did the respondent feel?” Kasturi was forced to reveal that respondent had been drunk and actually thought he was the one that had been raped, not the claimant. Every tour is unique, just like each sexual misconduct incident and subsequent process.