More Recent Harassment Claims and the Impact on Students Going Forward

September 13, 2023
real talk with susan and kristina podcast

In this episode of Real Talk, KJK Student Defense Attorneys Susan Stone and Kristina Supler are joined by Carly Boyd, a domestic relations attorney.  In this episode, they talk about the effects of a recent Department of Justice Investigation at Case Western Reserve University will have on student life.  They discuss the biggest misperceptions students have around Title IX issues, why students don’t report harassment cases in both Greek organizations and Sports Teams, and what triggers most harassment cases.

3 Main Points:

  • Biggest misperceptions students have with Title IX cases
  • Why Students Don’t Report Cases (Greek or Athletes)
  • What triggers most harassment claims


Show Notes:

  • (04:31)  Biggest Misperceptions Students Have with TitleIX and Other Issues
  • (05:28)  The Reaction to the DOJ Sexual Conduct Investigation at Case University
  • (08:41)  Why More Students Don’t Come Forward
  • (11:32)  Why Athletes Don’t Report Harassment
  • (14:08)  What Lies at the Heart of Most Harassment Claims
  • (15:32)  Is Bystander Intervention Training Effective?
  • (16:46)  Carly’s Advice for Students this New Academic Year



Susan Stone: So Kristina, last week we just received a copy of the resolution agreement between the federal government and Case Western Reserve University. And for our listeners out there, Case is right in our backyard. It’s where I went to law school. And apparently the Department of Justice conducted an investigation of the university’s response to reports of claims by student on student and employee on student sexual harassment between the years of 2017 and 18, 20 and 21. So right smack in the pandemic. 

There were a lot of interviews were conducted with a whole host of administrators. And in particular, I couldn’t help but notice there was a lot of interviews and roundtables that were facilitated with Interfraternity Council and the Women’s Health Center and a lot of Greek organizations.

Kristina Supler: Yeah, it was really interesting report to read, Susan. And I was surprise to see the report come out. I think a real upside to this is that Case is committed to strengthening its strength. It’s training in response to programs associated with reports of sexual assault or harassment. 

Susan Stone: exactly, because the Case is actually rolling out it’s a whole entire program called It’s on CWRU, which is a violence prevention campaign. And it’ll be interesting to see how that impacts Greek culture and hazing in general. 

Kristina Supler: There’s a lot of new obligations in that resolution agreement that the university is committed to. But also that fall on members of Greek life and,for example, sororities and fraternities have to disclose to the chapter when there’s internal investigations of sexual misconduct. There’s new operating protocols. And I’m really curious to hear more about how this is going to play out on campus, day to day realities.

Susan Stone: we are so lucky because our very own Carly Boyd, our partner, might have some inside scoop. 

Kristina Supler: Welcome Carly. We’re pleased to be joined by Carly Boyd. She’s a skilled domestic relations attorney who has been working in that field for over a decade and she’s in the firms here at KJK family law practice group. And Carly, you might be thinking, why are you having a domestic relations attorney on this podcast. But Carly is actually a former advisor to the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority at Case Western Reserve. 

And so she’s here today to just talk with us about this resolution agreement and looking to the future, what it means for Greek life. So welcome, Carly. 

Carly Boyd: Welcome, Ladies. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here and talk about this. 

Susan Stone: Yeah. Carly, just tell us to start, what do you do or what did you do? Because I know you just stepped down in July for, and can I call the Alpha Gamma Delta the Alpha Gams? Is that correct? Yeah, that’s 

Carly Boyd: Okay. Can do that. . I was their chapter wellness advisor from 2018 to just this past summer. Case Western just added Alpha Gam in 2018. It was a new chapter for them, which was really exciting. Just, like Susan and I went to Case Western for law school and I was really excited to combine my passion for Alpha Gam at Case. 

And so in a sorority and a fraternity, they have a main chapter advisor. And then there was a bunch of different ones to help with the different directors. So I was there to assist with the director as they needed me. The chapter wellness kind of focuses on membership on activities and really just being there for retention of members was where I was at. They didn’t need me all the time, but there was issues I could be there as a guidance and as a true advisor for them.

Kristina Supler: So you were really, in the trenches having contact with the students. I’m curious to hear, Carly, based on your experience working with the students, what do you see as the biggest, misperception or misunderstanding among students about issues like Title IX or maybe hazing and other student conduct issues?

Carly Boyd: Yeah, I think, when it comes to the Greek life and the misperceptions and what people think of, it’s all bad. It’s all hazing, and it’s all drinking. It’s all, Just horrible stories that come out of the Greek life. And I think there’s a balance between there’s a really good of Greek life, benefits.

When it comes to Title IX, I think people mainly look to like men and women’s sports or inequality in that way. I don’t know if people outside of your practice, understand the larger implications of what Title IX means on a campus and that it goes down into sexual harassment and misconduct and on those deeper levels. when I was thinking about this, I do believe just the idea of a Title IX investigation, do people understand how.

What that really means in a detail of what they were looking into. 

Susan Stone: When you read the resolution agreement, what are your impressions?

Carly Boyd: I’m surprised that these things weren’t happening already. It was my first thought. Really? I just, I think of this day and age of just trainings and so many things that we have to do as professionals. That I’m surprised that just certain annual trainings and reports weren’t happening already. And I do believe that my experience with my chapters, they were doing those things that were very on top of providing resources, mandatory trainings.

And so maybe I was just surprised that wasn’t on a higher level happening at the university. I’m glad 

Susan Stone: to see that. We don’t know. I happen to believe that it probably was happening. But we don’t know all the backstory. We’re only looking at the resolution agreement. 

Kristina Supler: Yeah, Carly, I’m interested to hear, since you seem to have some surprise when you read this, in some ways this is a whole bunch of nothing.

Shouldn’t, wasn’t this already going on? What do you see realistically to be in terms of likely impact on Greek life, starting this academic year? 

Carly Boyd: I hope there’s a big impact and implication and how people feel in the Greek community. I hope they feel protected and heard through all these things.

I don’t know if there’ll be a change in the actual work that needs to be done. If they were already doing their local chapters, we’re already requiring annual trainings. The Navy doesn’t change their day today. For, my chapter, you had to do certain trainings for the whole chapter to be in good standing and you had a report in it.

And that’s been like that for years internationally. Isn’t that? Wasn’t just a case Western thing. So I would hope that on a day today. The chapters are used to when you get new members, you educate them, you’re doing these regular trainings. If they weren’t, I’m looking forward to seeing how that could be implemented and that it’s a positive effect in the community.

Just because you do these trainings, though, are the members actually feeling like they’re doing something good? Just because we all do these trainings and everyone has to go through it to check a box. Are people actually going and hearing it and feeling protected and safe because of those trainings.

And so that’s what I look forward to seeing is what is the impact of these trainings. 

Susan Stone: From our perspective, and Kristina, correct me if you’re wrong, we want there to be a culture of reporting. We want, yeah, We want students to come forward. I don’t know, Carly, if you’ve had a chance to look at the complaint against Northwestern and what was going on with the team there, the football team, I believe.

Kristina Supler: And swimming. And it’s. As they’re digging deeper, far wider spread than initially suspected, and according to the news, right? 

Susan Stone: And it’s not just sexual assault. It’s bullying. It’s harassment of every kind. And as attorneys who represent students, we want to hear from those parents. We want to hear from those students.

We want to be proactive. So we’re hoping that more resolution agreements that lead to more training will lead to a culture of people feeling more comfortable to come forward. What are your thoughts on that? I

Carly Boyd: think that’s great. If people can come forward, But I think it’s if I come forward, what’s, what do people do with that information? If I don’t believe a university or a team or Greek life will actually do anything with my complaint, why am I going to come forward? 

And I think that’s the biggest part is, I think the negative view of Greek life is this hazing aspect. You have to be tough, you’re hazed, that’s just normal. Maybe your parents were in Greek life, your dad went through it, so you just deal with it because that’s the culture. And I think that’s the dangerous part of Greek life, is if I say something am I going to be looked at as weak or am I going to be kicked out? Am I going to be isolated? And maybe I’m at a different college, I’m out of state.

I don’t know anybody. And this was going to be my community. If I speak up what happens, especially if no one listens. So I’d love, the resolutions, I like the transparency. I like that people can report. But then looking to the institutions to actually act on what’s being reported and doing it right, 

Kristina Supler: Carly. You’ve just made me think about. there’s a portion of the resolution agreement with Case that specifically is focused on Greek life. However, you were a collegiate athlete as well, weren’t you? 

Carly Boyd: I was supposed to be but my sister was. At a Big Ten school as well. So I went to a Big Ten school and I was about to be and I backed out at the last 

Kristina Supler: minute.

Well, you’re still qualified to answer my question or share some thoughts. So I’m curious, and Susan, feel free to chime in as well. 

Susan Stone: Do I ever not chime in? True. Very true. come on. Are we, is this not real talk? 

Kristina Supler: It’s real. It’s real. For better and for worse, right? But I’m curious that this notion of training and bystander intervention and having students feel free to Terrific question. Come forward and report when they see something that isn’t right. 

Do you think there’s really any difference between how sports teams handle these issues versus Greek life? Is there you know at the core some cultural differences between the different environments? Or do you think it’s the same foundational issues in terms of helping students understand what resources are available and how they can participate in a process if they choose to. 

Susan Stone: That’s so deep. Because basically, are you asking, is it the type of organization or is it just changing group think in general? 

Kristina Supler: Exactly, because I’m thinking, what’s the difference between a sports team and a fraternity or sorority if it’s You know, there are obviously many differences, but in terms of these types of issues, what are your thoughts, Carly?

Like a band. 

Susan Stone: Does it really matter? Are we always picking on one type of organization for this? Or is it endemic to certain types of groups? I don’t know. This is deep.

Carly Boyd: I think it is. I’ll go back to the sports versus their Greek life. I think sports has such a different environment because if you speak up, are you now going to be the starting position in your college team?

Yeah, you speak up. And if you’re not starting, are you then not getting to the next level? Are you not going to 

Kristina Supler: Fear from retaliation? Right? 

Carly Boyd: I think that is a much. Worse fear in sports is that retaliation. There’s another person there to take your position on the team or on the relay if you speak up. And how easy it is to know.

Yes, you didn’t practice as hard. There’s no measuring that. And all of a sudden, why would I speak up Greek life? If you speak up, you might have social implications. You’re going to remove yourself from that fraternity. And I use the term fraternity for both sorority and fraternity. But I don’t think there’s as much future implications there if you are removed from Greek life.

And I think that’s where sports teams are different. I think that’s where they foster a lot more is because they have a lot more on the line. Maybe, they’ve trained their whole lives to be there. They want to make their parents proud. They have this persona. I think that’s where it’s such a different mentality.

Kristina Supler: Interesting. Well, and sports teams are also inherently competitive, Whereas Greek life isn’t supposed to be, in an ideal way. 

Susan Stone: Correct. Well, it’s the opposite. It’s fostering community and a family relationship. 

Carly Boyd: That’s absolutely correct. And I think, I do think that sports teams have both of that.

When I was going to college and I decided not to swim, I did turn to the sorority life for that family. I was going out of state to a college and I wanted someplace where I could belong and meet people. But it is less competitive. I think there’s a lot, there’s a different, there’s a different, that fear of retaliation, you are correct in how to look at that.

I still 

Susan Stone: wonder if at the heart of most claims is the root is drinking. The sexual assault, maybe even the bullying, feeling a little more comfortable to let certain words out of your mouth or treat someone in a different way that if you were sober, would you behave that way?

From your work on the campus, how do you see? the drinking and the drug use. And do you agree with me that at the heart of it all roads lead to consumption? 

Carly Boyd: I would imagine if you looked at the cases, where there’s alcohol is a lot higher when there’s not alcohol. And I think that’s the hard part with Greek life is in Greek life, you have specific purposes of putting Fraternities and sororities at a social event, right?

That’s a very specific thing you do each fall, each weekend. And then there’s alcohol at these events. So you’re already putting yourself in a position of alcohol and partying. I believe if it’s all done correct, it can be monitored and done right. But again, it goes back to, are people going to actually follow that?

So you can have as many policies as you want as to managing alcohol, monitoring it. I don’t see it as an issue necessarily. But I also wasn’t there to see it on that level. I’ll put that out there. So I was as an advisor knew what we approved what they came to us about. That was our role. And that’s what we handled.

if it’s done right, you’re get you’re having sober monitors. You’re having sober drivers. You’re there was rules to prevent anything that goes wrong. Because I do believe it’s around alcohol. 

Kristina Supler: In your experience, Carly, how effective is bystander intervention training? Do you see students really taking that training to heart and implementing it?

Carly Boyd: When it comes to bystander intervention training, I don’t have as much knowledge on that and what is happening with that on campus or what maybe, if it’s happening, I’m not realizing that’s what it’s called, I’ll say. So what is, to you guys in your experience, what is a bystander intervention training specifically?

Susan Stone: Teaching people to intervene if they see a buddy who’s drunk, making sure that the person gets home safely, reporting if you see something happening that’s concerning to 

Carly Boyd: you. I think those are very important trainings, because I think, I was thinking about this, these are still college students that are young.

They all come to college with different experiences and backgrounds. And they may not have the tools. They may not have never drank before. They’ve never been in those situations to have those training, at least planted in their mind of what they would do when they see it. And I think having more of those trainings and exposing people to those methods is beneficial to everybody.

Kristina Supler: I would agree. I guess as a parting, note, Carly, what would you, for our student listeners out there, what would you like them to know or hear going into, being at the beginning of this school year? 

Carly Boyd: I think it’s important for the students to know that people do care. These resolutions are put into place to protect their students and that people are listening and they have heard and that there is, people looking out for them.

They want to know if there are issues. They want them to be safe and that you can be a college student, you can be in the Greek life and enjoy it and not feel pressure or feel unsafe. 

Susan Stone: One of the many joys of being a partner at KJK and working with attorneys like you, Carly, is that you mix your professional experience working with families and your personal life, working with people, volunteering, hoping that there are better relationships, because really that’s what you are. You build relationships and when they’re ending, you make sure that they end in what I would call a respectful way. 

So thank you, and thank you for being on our podcast and enjoying a little student athlete defense time.

Kristina Supler: Thanks Carly. Thanks for having me.