Corrections request: Title IX article published on 4/30

 Corrections request from Vice President of University Life Rose Pascarell and Vice President of Compliance, Diversity and Ethics Julian Williams in response to this article originally titled “How a Title IX report in Student Government dragged on for over a year.”
Article has been updated in response to requests below as of May 16, 2018. 
Thu 5/10, 9:24 AM
Dear Fourth Estate,
I wanted to follow up to address the reply VP Pascarell received.  
The issues prompting the request for a correction are not alleviated by your reply.  Although the headline did not explicitly use the word “investigation” and instead used “report” it conflates the two terms.  Any casual reader will interpret “report” as an “investigation.”  The headline is not only incorrect, it is misleading because it implies that the University did not follow up on this matter.  That is not the case.
The headline of the story “How a Title IX report in Student Government dragged on for over a year” is indeed misleading. To readers, “report, case and investigation” could seem the same. It may be semantics, but the words matter. Student Government “responded” and made a referral to the Title IX office as soon as the EDC started hearing about alleged incidents from during and before both parties freshman year at Mason were outside the scope of the election. 
The Complainant received the resources email from Hammat on April 20, 2017, day after she emailed CDE. She met with the investigator in CDE during our inquiry process – the time when we review the materials we have received and determine if it meets the threshold to proceed with a formal or informal investigation.  
During the intake meeting with CDE investigator Kat Lundi, Ms. Lundi explained to the Complainant, verbally, that the Facebook messages from before her freshman year were outside the scope of our jurisdiction (we cannot investigate those who were not yet students) and that the towel incident, as described to Ms. Lundi at the time, would not rise to the level to warrant an investigation. 
She was told that CDE would reach out to Housing and Residence Life to see if an incident report had been submitted for the alleged incident. Housing and Residence Life confirmed that no incident report was submitted for the Complainant and the Respondent in the fall of 2015. The Complainant told the investigator that there was additional “evidence” and that she would reach out to others and gather additional information she had knowledge of to share with CDE to see if that additional information would change the status of “did not rise to the level to warrant an investigation” to something that would warrant an investigation. 
Ms. Lundi was not contacted for comment by the article’s writer, but her notes reflect what she shared verbally with the complainant.  The Complainant left the initial meeting in CDE with the knowledge that the information shared during the initial meeting did not warrant a formal investigation. As such, we did not provide that same information to her in writing.*(CDE has since changed its practice and will now follow up in email communication to all Complainant’s about their in-take meeting, and next steps, if applicable).  
Additionally, since she was going to “retrieve” and locate additional evidence, Ms. Lundi was told by the Complainant, that she would hear back from her within a week or so. Ms. Lundi reached out to the Complainant multiple times in the late spring of 2017 and did not hear back from the Complainant. 
When the Complainant emailed Hammat on June 1, 2017 and asked if there “was anyway to get any updates or information on my case.” Hammat forwarded the email to Ms. Lundi and asked her to schedule another meeting with the Complainant to see if any additional information/evidence had been located, and to re-emphasize that the information presented to the EDC and to CDE did not rise to the level to warrant an investigation.
Kat Lundi met with the Complainant on June 27, 2017, and it was reiterated that without any new information, there was still not sufficient evidence to warrant an investigation. The Complainant emailed CDE on August 24, 2017, asking for an update. The Complainant was contacted the same day and a meeting was set for the following week.
She met with Kat Lundi on August 31, 2017, and again indicated she had no new materials or information to share with Lundi. The Complainant indicated she would send those materials to Hammat. Lundi explained that there was not an open investigation and that Hammat would be available to receive the materials she referenced. This was the last contact we had with the Complainant.
The article as written is replete with inaccuracies and reflects a lack of understanding of the Title IX reporting process. It sends a message to the campus community that is factually incorrect.   We humbly request correction.  
Julian R. Williams
Vice President of Compliance, Diversity and Ethics
George Mason University
MS 2C2
Fairfax, VA 22030
Phone: 703/993-8730
Fax: 703/993-8899

Thu 5/3, 4:54 PM

Dear Rose and Julian,

Thank you for contacting Fourth Estate about this story. We believe the readers will benefit from your response and we appreciate you reaching out to do so.

We take corrections requests very seriously, and are willing to transparently make corrections if determined to be necessary. We would like to clarify some of our reporting in regards to the corrections requested.

The headline of the story, “How a Title IX report in Student Government dragged on for over a year,” is referring to the report made to Title IX on March 30, 2017 by “student government advisors,” according to the email Jennifer Hammat sent Brenda. If we go by the date Brenda herself made contact with Title IX, April 19, 2017, we are still past one year at the date of publication. Brenda alleges that she was never updated on the status of her report and has still not been updated. She claims that after her last meeting with a CDE employee, she was told she would be updated via email. If someone is able to provide us with information that can prove Brenda was contacted and informed on the final status of her report, without violating FERPA, we will be able to make a correction that she was in fact told by a Title IX representative that Title IX stopped looking into her report on a certain date.  

The word “investigation” or “case” is not used, because we verified it was a report and not an investigation.

The story is clear that there have been no formal Title IX investigations for Kanos or other student government members. Please refer to the following excerpts:

Based on Brenda’s statements to Fourth Estate and the grievance, Brenda believed that her reports were a “formal investigation” against Kanos. But according to Hammat, there have been zero formal Title IX investigations involving student government members between 2016-2018.

While it seems Brenda never opened a formal investigation that she believed she did, there have been multiple formal Title IX investigations at Mason that took longer than 60 days to complete.

“Students who wish to run for Student Government must be in good standing with the university,” CDE Vice President Williams wrote to Fourth Estate. “That includes no Title IX charges or discipline. While I can’t speak directly to this, it is my understanding that David Kanos was in good standing with the university when he ran for office, and he remains in good standing now as Student Government President.”

All of these excerpts were based on correspondence between Fourth Estate and university staff. For these reasons, we are not able to make the corrections requested without further information. If you believe these or other passages are factually inaccurate, please let us know specifically so that we may issue an appropriate correction.

To clarify further: you wrote that “there is no specific ongoing Title IX investigationinvolving former Student Body President David Kanos.” Have there been previous Title IX investigations or reports involving Kanos that are now closed? If so, we appreciate the opportunity to update the original article to correct the record.

Other students have come forward with their own experiences, whether it is with the Title IX office or Kanos. We will further investigate for updates and follow-ups if necessary, and we would welcome a response from the university. We are not printing again until fall 2018, but we can publish a letter from the university online addressing the original article. We can also print your original email, with an editor’s note about the corrections requested, if you would like that to be the letter from the university. If anyone who did not originally respond to comment for the article would like to now come forward with more information, we would be happy to continue reporting and updating.

Thank you for your cooperation with the comments we have received thus far.


Fareeha Rehman, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Michael Eberhart, News Editor

Thu 5/3, 7:53 AM
Dear Editor,
We are writing to request a correction to the April 29, 2018 article “How a Title IX report in Student Government dragged on for over a year.” The story contains several incorrect statements of fact and inconsistencies, starting with the headline.

The Title IX Office has no cases that have lasted for a year, or “dragged on for over a year.”  A headline like this leaves the reader with the impression that the university was not responsive to Title IX complaints. That is false.   We hope you will correct the record.  Furthermore, there is no specific ongoing Title IX investigation involving former Student Body President David Kanos.  While federal law restricts what we are able to share, it is important that our campus community knows that our goal has always been and continues to be that victims/survivors report their experience.   That reporting can happen through an initial meeting with someone in the Title IX office or through a number of campus offices that serve as resources to all students.  In addition, both Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and staff in the Student Support and Advocacy Center are confidential reporting sites.  Students who wish to report but not make a formal complaint can do so in these offices to receive resource information and support,  Our goal is also to provide appropriate due process and support resources to students who are accused. 
Mason has been and remains strongly committed to eradicating sexual violence in all forms. As a result of the Sexual Assault and Interpersonal Violence Task Force that President Cabrera commissioned in 2015, 18 recommendations have been implemented on campus, and several more recommendations are currently being created and/or finalized.  One of those implemented recommendations was the creation of additional Title IX staff and resources.
We would never want a message conveyed to our community that suggests a student would not be listened to or receive a timely response Please feel free to contact Juliet Blank-Godlove, Dean of Students and co-chair of the Sexual Assault and Interpersonal Violence Implementation Committee, if you or someone you know has a concern about a current Title IX process.    Our goal will always be to make continuous improvements to best serve students, create an environment and climate of safety, provide a victim-centered process, as well as and one that ensures due process.   We hope to hear from you. 
Rose Pascarell, Vice President for University Life
Julian Williams, Vice President for Compliance, Diversity and Ethics