Blog

Month: April 2015

Three Takeaways From the OCR’s Guidance Package
Posted by On Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Without much fanfare, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued a “Guidance Package” on April 24, 2015, which includes a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), a Dear Title IX Coordinator Letter, and a Title IX Resource Guide. The three takeaways from the OCR’s Guidance Package are: (1) all primary, secondary, and postsecondary schools must have a Title IX coordinator; (2) Title IX coordinators must be given adequate authority and training to meet their obligations; and (3) interfering with a Title IX coordinator’s efforts to do their job violates Title IX’s anti-retaliation provision.

The DCL is a seven-page reminder that “all school districts, colleges, and universities receiving Federal financial assistance must designate at least one employee to coordinate their efforts to comply with and carry out their responsibilities under Title IX . . ..” Another significant guidance document—Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence, released in April of 2014 — had already pointed out that designating a Title IX coordinator is one of three key procedural requirements in the Title IX regulations. This latest DCL leaves no doubt that this is not a matter of simply adding a title to someone’s long list of job duties:

This position may not be left vacant; a recipient must have at least one person designated and actually serving as the Title IX coordinator at all times.

An OCR spokesperson said that many schools currently under investigation do not have a Title IX coordinator. For example, Brown University just hired its first Title IX coordinator this month. Apparently, the OCR is lighting a fire under schools that have not yet taken this step.

The DCL lays out the Title IX coordinator’s responsibilities and authority, emphasizing that it is a Title IX violation to interfere with the Title IX coordinator’s performance of their job responsibilities:

Title IX’s broad anti-retaliation provision protects Title IX coordinators from discrimination, intimidation, threats, and coercion for the purpose of interfering with the performance of their job responsibilities.

To establish a strong and visible role in the community for the Title IX coordinator, the DCL encourages schools to create a prominent link on its homepage to a dedicated webpage with the Title IX coordinator’s contact information, Title IX policies and grievance procedures, and other resources related to Title IX compliance and gender equity.

To keep informed of the laws, regulations, and OCR guidance on campus safety, the DCL recommends regular training for Title IX coordinators and all employees whose responsibilities are related to the school’s Title IX obligations.

Also included in the guidance package is a Letter to Title IX Coordinators with a Resource Guide, which covers Title IX basics, as well as the Title IX coordinator’s administrative duties and role in helping schools meet their Title IX obligations. The letter contains this warning: “To be an effective Title IX coordinator, you must have the full support of your institution.”

As Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights, said in the OCR’s press release, “A critical responsibility for schools under Title IX is to designate a well-qualified, well-trained Title IX coordinator and to give that coordinator the authority and support necessary to do the job.”

Talk About It!Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, April 24, 2015

As we approach the end of this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we have two announcements related to the annual event and speculation that a new study might shine more light on the prevalence of sexual violence on American campuses.

White House Blog Post on SAAM

The current White House has been particularly active on the issue of campus sexual assault, launching the “It’s On Us” campaign as part of an overall initiative to reduce sexual violence at institutions of higher education. For sexual assault awareness month, the White House has publicized the accomplishments of the “It’s On Us” campaign, including a recent appearance by Vice President Biden. Those include 600 It’s On Us events, 300 campus It’s On Us student campaigns, 200,000 It’s On Us pledges taken, and partnerships with the likes of Funny or Die and Pandora.

DOJ and DOE SAAM Statement

The Department of Justice and Department of Education took a different route, recognizing SAAM by publishing a blog post that explained the multi-pronged approach for addressing campus sexual assault. Specifically, the post weighed in on an often-asked and somewhat fraught question: Why are schools investigating crimes, which should fall under the jurisdiction of the local police force? The post points out that college administrators are required by civil rights laws to provide a safe and supportive learning environment to victim/survivors of sexual assault. Law enforcement, on the other hand, handles criminal justice matters.

Could the AAU Climate Survey Shed More Light on the Prevalence of Assault in College?

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses. The commonly cited statistic that 1 in 5 female college students will be assaulted before graduating is often attacked by critics who maintain that the real number is much lower. Others suggest that the actual number may be even higher. Of course, such a controversy is possible mostly because of the lack of empirical data surrounding sexual assault. Now, some people are hoping a new survey from the American Association of Universities could change that. The above piece from Business Insider speculates that the new survey, which will be made available to 800,000 students at 27 institutions, will provide the raw data necessary to better understand the prevalence of sexual assault, and hopefully improve efforts to fight it. The AAU climate survey also has its critics, including a group of researchers who claim that the survey “is proprietary and therefore not available for scientific examination” and that AAU plans to release aggregated data instead of individual campus data needed for comparison.

Talk About It!Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Free Webinar: Preventing Sexual Violence on Campus with Michelle Issadore
Posted by On Thursday, April 23, 2015

Next week, on Wednesday, April 29, we will host our second free webinar. Michelle Issadore, M.Ed., will talk about strategies “Preventing Sexual Violence on Campus.” You can register now to reserve your place.

Issadore is the Executive Director of the School and College Organization for Prevention Educators (SCOPE). She works with schools, colleges, and community organizations nationwide to assess and improve their strategic prevention efforts, as well as research and understand best practice initiatives.

Issadore’s presentation is a timely reminder of the fast approaching July 1st deadline when the Campus SaVE Act regulations take effect. The Campus SaVE Act requires colleges and universities to offer student and employee education programs “to prevent dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.”  (You can find our full breakdown of the Campus SaVE Act requirements on our blog.) This webinar will helps schools put together their prevention programs for the 2015-2016 academic year. Register for the free webinar now to reserve your place.

For many colleges and universities, implementing prevention programs seems like a daunting task, especially given the complexity of the issues and the need to coordinate and engage various stakeholders. Indeed, one of our takeaways from the NASPA conference this year was the need to bring together different prevention efforts and initiatives on campus. Similarly, last year, the Centers for Disease Control published its brief, “Connecting the Dots,” on the links between different forms of violence in order to help schools “coordinate and integrate responses to violence in a way that recognizes these connections.”

Our discussion next week will help address these pressing concerns for schools considering how to train a diverse audience on a breadth of issues around sexual and gender-based violence. During our 45-minute webinar, Michelle Issadore will answer questions surrounding sexual assault prevention strategies on campus and what institutions can do to overcome challenges associated with implementing widespread initiatives.

Michelle Issadore will specifically address the following questions:

  • What are some ways schools can achieve a community-level approach?
  • How can departments work together to create consistent messaging?
  • What role does compliance now play in prevention programming?

Even if your institution currently has training solutions in place, Michelle’s experience and expertise will prove invaluable to anyone looking to enhance their efforts.

Register for the free webinar now to reserve your place .

Talk About It!Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, April 17, 2015

This week we have an app that will streamline reporting on college campuses, a new book on a campus sexual assault case by the author of Into the Wild, and a diverse collection of viewpoints on how to achieve progress on preventing campus sexual assault.

New App Promises to Improve Reporting of Sexual Assaults

Three higher education institutions are expected to pilot a new system for reporting sexual assaults. Developed by Sexual Health Innovations, the system is called Callisto after a nymph from Greek mythology. The system offers students information about how to report a sexual assault to their college and local law enforcement agencies. If students choose to report, they can do so through Callisto. If they choose not to report, they can still record information about the assault through the system. Although the school will not be able to see this record without the student’s permission, the school will be able to see aggregate statistical information about users of the system.

Importantly, Callisto has an additional feature that helps schools identify repeat offenders. Students who create a record on Callisto but choose not to file a report with their institution, can opt into a matching feature, which will send the school the reporter’s name and the name of the alleged assailant if someone else files a report on Callisto involving the same assailant. Some commentators, however, expressed concern over the privacy issues and legal protections for the system’s users. As Laura Dunn, a lawyer by training and the founder of an advocacy group for Survivors of sexual assault, explained: “As a survivor and as an activist, I think this is amazing… as a lawyer, I am cautious.”

Bestselling Author to Release Book on Campus Rape

Next week, Jon Krakauer, author of the best sellers “Into Thin Air” and “Into the Wild,” is releasing a book on campus rape. Krakauer’s new book, “Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town,” discusses multiple sexual assault cases at the University of Montana (UM). UM was the subject of yearlong federal investigation into its handling of sexual assault complaints. Two years ago, UM entered into a Resolution Agreement with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the Department of Justice. The Joint Letter of Findings called the Resolution Agreement with UM a “blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country to protect students from sexual harassment and assault.” The Agreement provides information on important issues such as confidentiality, campus climate surveys, and standards of proof in campus adjudication processes. For the book, Krakauer relied on documentation of the investigations and adjudication of these incidents, as well as talks with psychologists about the effects of rape on survivors. According to the Wall Street Journal, “One takeaway from ‘Missoula’ is that every incident of alleged rape is different, and ambiguities abound. Mr. Krakauer provides no sweeping conclusions.”

9 Perspectives on What Will Signal Progress on Campus Sexual Assault

The Chronicle of Higher Education has collected diverse responses to the question, “what will signal progress on sexual assault at colleges and universities?” The viewpoints range from providing survivors with the tools they need to heal, to ensuring a fair process for everyone involved, to beginning prevention training before college. The contributors include lawyers, advocates, and administrators, including The President of the University of Montana. All of the pieces point to the important leadership role schools play in addressing this issue through training and strong policies and procedures around sexual violence. As Annie Clark and Andrea Pino, the co-founders of End Rape on Campus, suggest in their essay: “Change will come only when colleges lead it, rather than follow the efforts of the students who expect their guidance.”

Talk About It!Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Court Finds School’s Failure to Train Employees Violates Equal Protection
Posted by On

A recent decision by the U.S. District Court in Michigan applied “deliberate indifference for failure to train in light of foreseeable consequences” as the proper legal standard for determining a school’s liability for violating its student’s equal protection rights claim. The Court ruled that the student showed “the district’s complete failure to train its employees on how to respond to sexual assault complaints and sexual harassment was deliberately indifferent and caused her injury.”

On March 31, 2015, Chief Judge Paul Maloney issued a 38-page decision, concluding that failing to train school staff was a violation of students’ Fourteenth Amendment equal protection rights:

Because sexual assault claims arise frequently in the public high school context, it is certainly foreseeable that the failure to train school staff on how to handle such claims would cause disastrous results. The Department of Education has made it clear to school administrators that training and proper responses to sexual assault claims are required. . . . Just like failing to train a police officer on when to use his or her gun, failing to train a school principal on how to investigate sexual assault allegations constitutes deliberate indifference. It is inevitable that these situations would arise at some point, and the complex Title IX requirements virtually ensure that an investigation done without any formal training would be deficient. [Jane Doe v. Forest Hills School Dist. (USDC WDMI 2015) no. 1:13-cv-428]

Two and a half years earlier, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights found the Forest Hills School District violated Title IX in its investigation of a sexual assault complaint.

The Facts of the Case*

Fifteen-year-old “Jane Doe” claims she was sexually assaulted after being forced into a band practice room by another student referred to as “MM.” Doe says she told two friends the next day what happened and they urged her to tell a teacher. Doe wrote a note and left it on her teacher’s desk. After reading the note, the teacher immediately notified a school counselor and the principal about Doe’s allegations.

Shortly after being notified, the principal interviewed Doe and “initially believed her due to her extreme emotional reaction,” and met with local law enforcement and Doe’s parents the next day. A police report was filed, and Doe had a forensic exam two days after the assault.

The principal and other staff members reviewed the school’s surveillance footage of Doe and MM walking around campus on the day of the alleged assault. Although there was no camera in the area where the alleged assault occurred, the principal and the staff members concluded that MM’s and Doe’s “demeanor and actions” on the tape did not support Doe’s report.

The principal also interviewed a cafeteria worker and two students who were near the band practice room around the time of the alleged assault, but they did not see or hear anything unusual. The principal did not, however, interview any of Doe’s friends who spoke to Doe the next day after the alleged assault occurred.

When the principal interviewed MM, he denied Doe’s allegations. The principal said he knew that MM had a history of disciplinary issues at school and had “heard rumors about MM being involved in some kind of sexual misconduct when he was younger.” However, the principal never followed up on those rumors, never requested or received a copy of Doe’s rape kit report, and “explained that his investigation was ‘pretty much done’ at that point.” Instead, he decided to wait for the police to come up with evidence supporting Doe’s story.

Two weeks after Doe’s report, another student reported she was sexually assaulted by MM in the school parking lot. MM was eventually transferred out of the class he shared with Doe, but Doe continued to eat lunch in the library since MM had the same lunch period, and she missed classes and after-school activities because she was being harassed by MM and other classmates.

Meanwhile, when Doe’s parents complained to the principal that MM continued to harass their daughter but the principal told them he couldn’t discipline MM without proof, so he was waiting for the police to provide evidence of the assault.

Finally, after MM pled guilty to misdemeanor simple assault charges, the district suspended MM from school for five days. The Court noted that during MM’s plea colloquy, he admitted engaging in sexual conduct with Doe that constituted criminal sexual conduct for which an adult could be punished by up to two years imprisonment.

Court’s Decision

As a bit of background, in 2009 the US Supreme Court ruled that students can sue schools for sex discrimination under both Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution. While Title IX allows awards of compensatory damages, the Equal Protection Clause allows school officials to be sued individually and also provides for the recovery of punitive damages. [Fitzgerald v. Barnstable School Committee (USSCt 2009) no. 07-1125]

Doe sued for sex discrimination under Title IX, claiming an inadequate response to her complaint, and under the Equal Protection Clause, claiming a failure to train employees on how to respond to a student’s sexual assault complaint. Judge Maloney ruled that Doe’s Title IX claim should be decided by a jury, but decided in Doe’s favor on her equal protection claim because there was no factual dispute about the district’s complete failure to train school officials on how to handle sexual assault complaints.

First we’ll look at how the school responded to Doe’s sexual assault report and the factors that the Court found are relevant to determining whether the school’s response violated Title IX.

1. Inadequate Response

Even though the school district took steps to protect Doe — such as telling MM to stay away from her, offering counseling services to Doe, allowing her to park in a different parking lot, and offering to drive her home if she became overwhelmed — the Court concluded that a jury should decide if the school’s responses were merely negligent, or deliberately indifferent (i.e., its response was clearly unreasonable), because:

MM and other students harassed Doe for the remainder of the school year, and administrators merely “talked to” MM repeatedly; when this proved ineffective, the school should have done something different.

The District argued that they could not suspend or expel MM from school because there was no proof that the sexual assault actually occurred. Even when MM was accused of a second assault, the school did not change its response, leading the Court to conclude:

Forest Hills cannot escape liability due to its inability to conclusively substantiate Doe’s complaint to avoid its Title IX duties. Further, after the second complaint of an assault by MM, a jury could certainly find that the school was on notice that there was a risk to students. Apparently, at least arguably, the second report had no impact on the school’s response. [Emphasis in original.]

In fact, the Court pointed out the district seemed to require “nothing short of a signed confession or video tape of the alleged assault or subsequent harassment,” and noted that “Title IX imposes many duties on a school that must occur before a final investigation substantiates a complaint.”

The Court also pointed out that failing to follow Title IX guidance to resolve complaints is a factor in deciding deliberate indifference for Title IX liability. Here, the school did not allow the parties to present witnesses and evidence, nor did the school make a determination of MM’s responsibility within sixty days of Doe’s complaint. And, while “failure to comply with Title IX guidance does not, on its own, constitute deliberate indifference, it is one consideration.” [Emphasis in original.]

Thus, a jury will have to decide whether the school’s response to Doe’s sexual harassment complaint was deliberately indifferent and denied her access to educational opportunities or benefits, violating Title IX.

2. Failure to Train

Deciding the school was liable because it acted with deliberate indifference on Doe’s equal protection claim was not a close call for the Court. At their depositions, the superintendent admitted that the district did not train its employees on how to respond to sexual assault complaints, and the Title IX coordinator and the school principal both testified they still were not sure if Title IX applied in Doe’s case. In fact, the only Title IX training the district’s Title IX coordinator attended was five years before Doe’s assault.

Since “it is certainly foreseeable that the failure to train school staff on how to handle such claims would cause disastrous results,” the Court found that inadequate training was the result of Forest Hills’ deliberate indifference. The Court also found that “sexual assault claims arise frequently in the public high school context,” leading to this conclusion:

It is inevitable that these situations would arise at some point, and the complex Title IX requirements virtually ensure that an investigation done without any formal training would be deficient.

This left the Court to answer the difficult question of how a well-trained person would have handled Doe’s complaint to determine if inadequate training caused Doe’s emotional distress, psychological damages, and damage to her reputation.

Finding that school administrators did not act with bias or ill-will, the Court concluded that the administrators would have followed Title IX guidance on how to handle sexual assault complaints if they had been properly trained:

Thus, if school administrators had been trained properly, it is probable that they would not have waited for the criminal process to be complete before disciplining MM or relied so heavily on information from law enforcement. . . . Training concerning Title IX’s prohibition on retaliation against complainants may also have mitigated Plaintiff’s emotional distress and social ostracization. If the school had done an independent investigation and either punished or exonerated MM quickly, the issue likely would have “blown over” much more quickly.

The Court then ruled that the school district acted with deliberate indifference because it failed to properly train its employees, and is liable to Doe for damages: “if the school administrators had been adequately trained in the optimal methods of addressing sexual assault complaints, even allowing for mistakes, Plaintiff would not have suffered the injuries she alleges.”

Conclusion

This decision should be required reading for anyone who still doubts the importance of Title IX training for school employees. In its guidance document, Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights states that schools “should provide training to all employees likely to witness or receive reports of sexual violence.” [Q&A, pp. 38-40]

However, this decision warns school administrators that training employees is not only a compliance issue, but it is also a significant liability issue. The OCR found Forest Hills’ response to Doe’s complaint and its grievance procedures violated Title IX, and now the U.S. District Court has ruled its failure to train makes the district liable to Doe for money damages.
Forest Hills still faces a jury trial on its liability for Title IX violations. This is a classic case of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

*The facts of the case included in this post are set forth in the Court’s Opinion and Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Cross Motions for Summary Judgment.

Talk About It!Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Ball State Launches Think About It
Posted by On Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Campus SaVE ActSchools often ask us about the experiences of other institutions using Think About It. They’re interested in learning how other schools implement the program, what incentives they use, and what feedback they get from students. This information helps them plan their own strategy to bring Think About It onto their campuses.

The Ball State Daily recently ran an in depth article about their launch of Think About It. The entire article is worth reading for anyone currently using or even thinking about our program. But below are some highlights.

According to the article, 86.7% of incoming freshman at Ball State completed the program in 2014. Amazingly, Ball State didn’t use any incentives besides sending weekly reminders.

As readers of this blog know, we designed Think About It with students for students. A critical part of the process was soliciting student input through numerous focus groups. After all, students have to be engaged in order to learn effectively.

Indeed, the student response was overwhelmingly positive according to Tom Gibson, the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, who was quoted in the article:

“I think the fact that the course allows students to provide feedback on their experience taking the course was very helpful and reaffirming for us,” Gibson said. “By and large the majority of the students who completed the course said, ‘I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t think I would find this useful, but you know what? It actually was. So thank you.’ We knew this was the right thing to do, but we didn’t know how well it would be received.”

According to Ball State, one of the advantages of an online program is that helps administrators deliver a single, unified and easily tracked experience to all their students.

Katie Slabaugh, Title IX coordinator for student affairs, said because of the way the program is designed, students aren’t able to just turn it on and walk away; they actually have to be engaged in it.

“The impact of this is that you know more than 85 percent of your new students have completed the course, whereas something that this residence hall may offer to this group of students is not necessarily the equivalent,” Slabaugh said. “This has the benefit of one unified piece of the student union.”

Of course, a one off program is not enough to create culture change on any campus. Federal regulations as well as pedagogical theory recommend that learning be “ongoing.” Students need the opportunity to revisit and deepen their understanding of key learning points. To this end, we offer follow up courses to the main course. Ball State is taking advantage of these resources by asking students to complete our main course and a shorter follow up course, providing students with an extended experience.

We also have numerous offline resources, such as workshops and posters that schools can use to bring the CampusClarity program from online to on campus. As the article also points out our partner on this project, the University of San Francisco, also continues to develop resources that expand the program.

“University of San Francisco is currently working on a Talk About It and a Do Something About It campaign, just trying to create more awareness and get student involvement in things like bystander intervention and really trying to create life-long awareness and involvement in causes like this,” said Deeqa Mohamed, a student peer educator at University of San Francisco.

As Mohamed says, the key here is to instill in students a life-long awareness and involvement in these issues.

After all, the years between 18 and 25 constitute a critical developmental stage, called “emerging adulthood.” In this stage, young men and women experience new levels of autonomy and experiment with possible life directions. Some educators even claim that the emotional and social development that college students undergo during this period exceeds their intellectual development.

By helping students at the start of their college careers, we can have a lasting impact on their lives.

 

Talk About It!Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, April 10, 2015

This week we have more on the growing list of school’s under investigation, data on what usually happens to those schools, and one of the possible consequences of increased scrutiny of colleges and universities.

The List of Schools Investigated for Title IX Grows to 106

The U.S Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is currently investigating 106 colleges and universities for Title IX compliance related to the schools’ handling of sexual violence cases. This number has almost doubled since May last year, when the DOE first revealed the list of schools it was investigating. Catherine Lhamon, the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, explained last May that the OCR was releasing the list “to bring more transparency to our enforcement work and to foster better public awareness of civil rights.” She also clarified that being under investigation did not mean that the college or university “is violating or has violated the law.”

Four Charts Showing What Happens to Schools Accused of Discrimination

What happens to schools investigated by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights? Based on nearly 9,000 complaints the OCR investigated over the last 11 years, these charts reveal the vast majority of Title IX cases were simply dismissed. Furthermore, no Title IX investigation resulted in “enforcement,” where the OCR would strip a school of federal funding. Instead schools enter into resolution agreements with the OCR first, obligating schools to take steps that meet the OCR’s Title IX compliance requirements. For example, it was reported last May that after “Tufts defiantly backed out of an agreement,” the OCR “warned that it could move to terminate Tufts’ federal funding if the university did not comply, a result so catastrophic that it virtually required Tufts to reach some understanding with the government.” Once Tufts’ president received “clarity” about the basis for OCR finding the university in violation of Title IX, Tufts agreed to change its policies on how to handle sexual assault cases.

The Tufts case supports commentators in the recent Bloomberg article, suggesting that the lack of enforcement demonstrates how the threat of losing federal funding forces schools into compliance: too much is at stake for schools to do anything but concede to the OCR’s requests. Other commentators, however, argue that the lack of enforcement exposes the OCR’s weakness and the lack of political will to punish schools for violating Title IX. It is worth noting, however, that the number of Title IX complaints rose fivefold between 2012 and 2013. The article attributes the spike to the OCR’s 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, which laid out a school’s responsibilities to respond to complaints of sexual harassment.

30 Fraternities Shut Down in Past Month

One way schools are responding to increased scrutiny by the OCR and in the media is by cracking down on misconduct. As we’ve been covering for a while now, fraternities in particular have felt the heat of school’s greater vigilance. As this Huffington Post article reports, since the beginning of March alone, thirty fraternities have been shut down by their school or their national headquarters. The incidents that prompted the closures cover a range of student conduct violations. According to the article, one fraternity used a stun gun to intimidate its pledges and another damaged 45 rooms at a ski resort. The article suggests that the Internet may also be partially responsible for the increased scrutiny, since it’s easier to “circulate ­­– and catch – examples of misbehavior.” The article ends, however, with a comment from Jason Laker, a professor at San Jose State University. Laker reminds us that some of fraternity members’ bad behavior may have roots in larger cultural constructs of masculinity.

 

Talk About It!Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, April 3, 2015

For our first roundup of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we have a Presidential Proclamation for SAAM 2015, the results of a new survey on millennials’ beliefs about the prevalence of sexual assault, and Yale’s rollout of a new survey on sexual violence.

Presidential Proclamation

In recognition of National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month 2015, President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation, declaring “During National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, let us commit to being part of the solution and rededicate ourselves to creating a society where violence is not tolerated, survivors are supported, and all people are able to pursue their fullest measure of happiness without fear of abuse or assault.” The White House Task Force established in January 2014 helped bring campus sexual assault out of the shadows by issuing its First Report and creating the website www.NotAlone.gov to make Department of Education enforcement activities, as well as resources for students and schools easily accessible. In addition, the White House 1 is 2 Many report commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act. However, as this report points out, while VAWA changed intimate partner violence from a “private family matter” to a crime, much remains to be done to eliminate sexual violence.

Three-Quarters of Millennials Think Sexual Assault is Common on College Campuses

A new survey of millennials (here defined as people born between 1980 and 2000) conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, offers insight into that age group’s beliefs about the prevalence of sexual assault. 73% of millennials said they believed that sexual assault was somewhat or very common on college campuses. A further 60% of those surveyed said that colleges do not do enough to address the problem. The numbers are particularly notable when contrasted with the results of a similar question asked of college presidents in a recent Higher Education survey: just 32% agreed that sexual assault was prevalent on American campuses, and only 6% believed it was prevalent on their own campus. This piece from the Washington Post has some enlightening analysis on the significance of those very different results.

Yale Rolls Out Climate Survey

We’ve reported before on the Association of American Universities’ campus climate survey on sexual misconduct. Schools are now beginning to administer that survey, known as the Campus Sexual Climate Survey. Yale University launched the survey yesterday, making it available to its entire population of graduate and undergraduate students. When all is said and done the AAU survey will be administered by 27 schools and reach more than 800,000 students. The AAU and participating universities hope that the results, when released, will help introduce much needed data into the conversation about campus sexual assault.

Talk About It!Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

4 Resources to Start Your Campaign Around Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Posted by On Wednesday, April 1, 2015

As many of our readers are no doubt aware, today marks the beginning of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). While SAAM is always relevant to those concerned about the safety and well-being of college students, the focus of this year’s campaign is s especially relevant to institutes of higher education: the prevention of sexual violence on college campuses. We know our readers will be looking for creative and engaging ways to participate. Here are some ideas and resources to get you started.

Plan an Event

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center releases planning guides to help advocates and allies develop an effective Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign. These valuable guides provide specific event ideas and strategies for promoting awareness and engaging your community’s support and participation. Another great resource is this list of specific events on their blog.

Wear Jeans

Denim Day is Wednesday, April 29th this year. Denim Day started as a protest against a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court that overturned a rape conviction because the victim’s jeans were “too tight” for the attacker to remove without the victim’s help. Denim Day was conceived as a protest against all such misconceptions about sexual violence. You can show your support by organizing a full-fledged campaign around Denim Day on your campus or simply wearing jeans on April 29th this year.

Watch a Movie

The Hunting Ground, a new documentary on campus rape, has been raising awareness and provoking important conversations on college and university campuses across the country. Go to a screening to educate yourself or get more people involved by arranging a field trip. Make sure to organize a follow up discussion and make support resources easily available to students and staff who may be triggered by the movie.

Host a Workshop

Our own website offers numerous resources and ideas for workshops and awareness campaigns that you can use to create programming around Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Download free posters, workshops, and other materials here and adapt them to your own campus’s needs.

Talk About It!Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrEmail this to someone