DISSERTATION DEFENSE ANNOUNCEMENT Ed.D. Program: Sarah W. Kelly “Case Study of a Sexual Violence Informal Resolution Program at Rutgers University”

2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Approximately twenty percent of undergraduate women experience some form of unwelcome sexual behavior during their time at college. Acknowledging this high rate of on-campus sexual violence and the impact that it can have on victims, universities have created varied sexual assault prevention efforts and response programs. These include a growing use of alternative sanctions, or non-punitive disciplinary processes.

This qualitative case study used theories of justice and Foucault’s notion of power to understand how the Alternative Resolutions Program at Rutgers operates and how its policies and practices align to restorative justice principles. The study also sought to explore how the different stakeholders understand and enact restorative justice within the program. Data was collected through student survey, student interviews, staff interviews and document analysis.

The AR Program provides students an alternative to traditional, punitive responses to on-campus sexual violence. However, this study found that the compliance obligations of the Title IX processes create an incongruity between the staff commitment to the AR Program and students’ experience of it. Due to these compliance obligations, the AR Program is complex, and students find it hard to navigate. Additionally, the AR Program staff may be overly enthusiastic about the level of healing that students may experience. Students indicated that the program might be insufficient to enable healing.

There are several implications for the AR Program at Rutgers University, including creating a hybrid disciplinary model that includes traditional, punitive components and components of the AR Program, restructuring on-campus sexual violence resources at Rutgers for ease of use and limiting the use of the AR Program to certain types of sexual violence.

To access the Zoom link required to attend, please contact academic.services@gse.rutgers.edu.