Blog

Month: August 2015

Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, August 28, 2015

In this week’s roundup: double standards for sexual activity may begin as early as middle school, the University of Michigan tries out a new policy to discourage underage drinking, and a new study reveals that students are most likely to try certain drugs at specific times during the year.

Double Standard for Early Adolescent Sexual Activity

A team of sociologists and researches has released a new study showing that adolescent girls and boys – as early as the 6th grade – experience the social impacts of sexual activity differently.  “In our sample of early adolescents, girls’ friendship networks shrink significantly after they have sex, whereas boys’ friendship networks expand significantly,” said Derek A. Kreager, the lead researcher and a faculty member at Pennsylvania State University. The study found that early adolescent girls gain friends for making out without having sex, whereas boys of the same age lose friends for making out without having sex, enforcing a double standard about sexual freedom and promiscuity at a very early age. The researchers posit that early social norming around gender and sexual activity will have a lasting impact on “later sexual adjustment.” The paper, “The Double Standard at Sexual Debut: Gender, Sexual Behavior and Early Adolescent Peer Acceptance,” was presented Tuesday at the American Sociological Association’s 110th Annual Meeting.

University of Michigan Notifies Parents About Conduct Violations 

The University of Michigan announced that they will be going an unconventional route to discourage underage drinking this year. When students repeatedly violate alcohol and other drug (AOTD) policies, their parents will be notified of their behavior.  This is legal under FERPA Section 952, which allows – but not requires – schools to contact parents if their child is under 21 and committing AOTD violations. “We will notify parents of first-year students when a student under the age of 21 has had a second alcohol or drug violation or when a first-year student has committed a violation accompanied by other serious behavior such as needing medical attention, significant property damage or driving under the influence,” E. Royster Harper, Michigan’s Vice President for Student Life, wrote in a campus-wide email. This initiative is being promoted as a harm-reduction strategy for student safety.  Official communication from the University has not addressed any potential concerns, discrepancies, or downfalls to this policy. However, commentors on the article have brought up that AOTD legal violations seem to be taken seriously for a school who is under Title IX investigation for its mishandling of a sexual assault committed by a star athlete.

Study finds students start taking painkillers in winter, start drinking alcohol and smoking pot in the summer

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released a new study on Thursday that looks at the months when college students are most likely to experiment with new drugs. The study is the first of its kind, breaking down first time use by month for various substances, including alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, “study drugs,” prescription painkillers, and cocaine. First time use of alcohol, for instance, peaks in June, July, September, and December, according to the report. Similarly, college students tend to use marijuana for the first time in June and July. First time non-medical use of prescription painkillers, on the other hand, peaks in December. The study is based on data collected between 2002 and 2013 from The National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The information can help administrators target monthly programming to address the substances students are most likely to experiment with. Read the full study.

 

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No Union for Northwestern Football Players
Posted by On Thursday, August 27, 2015

For a moment in college football history, student football players at Northwestern University (NU) were deemed “employees” with the right to unionize under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). But that moment is over — at least for now.

A regional director for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) previously ruled that football players at NU were employees eligible to vote on whether to form a union. However, after the election but before the votes could be counted, the full NLRB in Washington D.C. impounded the ballots to consider an appeal by NU.

Rather than decide whether the football players are employees with union rights, the NLRB made an end-run around the question by declining to assert jurisdiction — a decision effectively denying the players the right to unionize under the NLRA. “Our decision,” the NLRB explained, “is primarily premised on a finding that … it would not promote stability in labor relations to assert jurisdiction.”

Observing that since the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sets and enforces common rules and standards of practice and competition over NU and other member teams, as well as individual players, “a symbiotic relationship” exists among them.

“As a result,” the Board reasoned, “labor issues directly involving only an individual team and its players would also affect the NCAA … and the other member institutions. Many terms applied to one team therefore would likely have ramifications for other teams. Consequently, it would be difficult to imagine any degree of stability in labor relations if we were to assert jurisdiction in this single-team case.”

Additionally, the Board noted that although NU is a private university covered by the NLRA, the Act does not cover state-run educational institutions, which means the NLRB cannot exercise jurisdictions over sports teams at these other NCAA-member schools.

“In particular, of the roughly 125 colleges and universities that participate in FBS [Division I Football Bowl Subdivision of the NCAA], all but 17 are state-run institutions. As a result, the Board cannot assert jurisdiction over the vast majority of FBS teams …. More starkly, Northwestern is the only private school that is a member of the Big Ten [Conference of the NCAA], and thus the Board cannot assert jurisdiction over any of Northwestern’s primary competitors.”

Still, the NLRB left the door open to revisit the issue for players’ groups larger than a single team, or under different circumstances: “[W]e are declining jurisdiction only in this case involving the football players at Northwestern University … The Board’s decision not to assert jurisdiction does not preclude a reconsideration of this issue in the future.” [Northwestern University v. College Athletes Players Association (2015) 362 NLRB No. 167]

For more information on students and work, see our earlier posts on unpaid internships and the Fox Searchlight lawsuit.

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A Parent’s Perspective on Campus Sexual Assault
Posted by On Monday, August 24, 2015

This piece is a guest post by Sheri Heitker Dixon, the founder of Keep Her Safe, an organization that helps parents and prospective students assess an institution’s attitudes and programs aimed at preventing sexual violence: “Our strategy is to make ‘safe from sexual assault’ a significant college selection criterion for parents and students, just like location, curriculum, cost, and other considerations.” Following on our recent webinar on involving parents in campus prevention efforts and Dr. Novak’s follow up post, “Why Parents Matter,” Heitker Dixon offers a parent’s perspective on what she is looking for in a school and what she would like to hear from campus leaders.

A Huffington Post headline forced me to think differently about sending my daughter to college. In February 2014, the college search was just beginning to show up on our radar. Most of the talk about college came from her high school guidance counselor and teachers with a focus on grades and encouragement to be involved in activities. We had talked casually about where she might go. A close friend promoted his alma mater, Duke. Her Florida Prepaid Tuition account assured a public Florida school would be completely paid for. There was the allure of urban schools in Boston and New York. We talked about her interests: neuroscience and theater. Even as a high school freshman, she was adamant that her hometown schools were not under consideration.

There are lots of questions to explore when making this decision. The question I wasn’t prepared for was the one asked in that Huffington Post headline: Why Are So Many Boys Leaving High School Thinking Rape Is Funny? The headline was jarring enough but the content of the article was horrifying to this mother of a teenage girl. The frequently cited, “1 in 5 college women will be assaulted” statistic was accompanied by a litany of incidents which were deeply misogynistic and dehumanizing in their objectification of female students.

I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of sending my daughter into this environment. I worried some of these boys were already in her circle. While the issue of campus sexual assault gained much traction with the White House Task Force, Congress, student groups and national sexual assault organizations creating solutions and demanding change, I couldn’t find support for parents. All the groups indicated that parents need to be involved but there was no vehicle to support that.

So I created my own protocol and founded Keep Her Safe to mobilize parents to press college and university administrations to make their campuses safe from sexual assault. Our family is looking at one of our largest purchases ever with a 4-year degree ranging from $50,000 to $250,000. I insist that my daughter’s safety be offered as part of the college package. Other parents are joining me in leveraging our purchasing power by using the Keep Her Safe Parent Toolkit to guide us through the process of assessing a school and then communicating to its administration that safe from sexual assault is a major selection criterion we are considering when choosing a school with our children.

Over the past couple of years this issue is gaining momentum, and rarely a day passes without some piece of campus sexual assault news. Much of the emphasis is on how schools handle sexual assault complaints. But as a parent, I’m much more concerned about what is being done to prevent sexual violence on campus. If my daughter is filing a complaint with a Title IX coordinator, that is a massive failure on the part of her school.

Of course, it’s important that complaints are handled effectively, perpetrators are punished, and victims services are available. But, media reports make clear that dealing with the aftermath of sexual assault is messy and difficult so it makes sense to devote resources to prevention.

I and the parents I work with want an environment where sexual assault is prevented. We also want to know administrators take our concerns seriously. I recently, have been heartened that some administrators are working to involve parents in prevention efforts. I attended the Campus Clarity webinar “Involving Parents in Sexual Assault Prevention” and read the follow-up article by Dr. Peter Novak “Why Parents Matter: New Partners in Sexual Assault Prevention.” The discussion included research to bolster the impact parents can have and provided ideas for getting them involved.

Just as the administrations are looking for parents to exert their influence on students, we are looking to the colleges and universities where we send our children to maximize their resources. The schools are uniquely poised to address this issue with education and training. We are looking for programs that:

  • Effectively conduct bystander training using processes with research based efficacy
  • Deliver the training in a variety of ways that may include combinations of online training, games and videos
  • Reinforce teachings with in-person sessions
  • Make training mandatory to all students
  • Discuss alcohol and drug use
  • Educate about affirmative consent
  • Deliver ongoing training throughout the year and to all levels
  • Have specific programs targeting the groups which are disproportionately involved in incidents of sexual violence—fraternities and athletes

Almost daily, postcards with photos of gorgeous campuses and happy, engaged students arrive for my daughter. She is getting excited. I’m feeling dread wondering about the dark side of the beautiful buildings and lush landscaping.

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, August 21, 2015

In this week’s roundup, confusion and guidance around confidentiality and the University of Texas system launches a study of campus sexual assault across all 13 of its campues.

Department of Education Seeks Input on Protecting Student’s Medical Records

On Tuesday, August 18th, The Department of Education’s (ED) Chief Privacy Officer, Kathleen Styles, requested input from the higher education community on protecting student medical records. The request, which was published on “Homeroom,” the ED’s official blog, accompanied a draft Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) addressing an exception under FERPA that allows a school to access a student’s medical records without consent if there is litigation between the student and the school.

The draft guidance follows a controversial incident earlier this year: after a student sued her university for allegedly mishandling her report of being raped, the university gave her therapy records to its attorneys to help defend itself against her lawsuit. One commentator argued the university’s decision — and the FERPA exception that allowed them to make it — left students “stuck between unaffordable therapy in a safe space and free therapy provided by an institution they are unsure they can trust.” The draft DCL offers guidance for these situations,

…without a court order or written consent, institutions that are involved in litigation with a student should not share student medical records with the institution’s attorneys or courts unless the litigation in question relates directly to the medical treatment itself or the payment for that treatment, and even then disclose only those records that are relevant and necessary to the litigation.

Public input is welcomed until October 2nd, and anyone interested can email comments to FERPA.Comments@ed.gov.

Controversial & Confidential Advisers

What’s controversial about confidential advisers? According to some experts, advocates employed by a college may have a conflict of interest when counseling alleged victims, rendering them unable to give students unbiased support. And without the protection of a legal privilege, advisers could be subpoenaed as part of a criminal investigation or by lawyers of accused students to disclose their communications with the alleged victim. Or, when helping a student move to a new dorm, information could be given to an employee who is required to report it to the Title IX coordinator. United Educators’ general counsel says simply hiring an adviser for every campus “is likely to cause more confusion and conflicts.”

However, as the White House Task Force Report pointed out, victims and survivors of sexual violence are more likely to seek help, rather than stay silent, if they have a place to go for confidential advice and support. The University of California has at least one adviser on each of its ten campuses. In fact, the UC Santa Barbara campus has five staff members to support victims through a campus or criminal investigation, or accommodations in academic and living situations, and the number of students seeking services from its confidential-advising program tripled after they increased the number of advisers.

California’s “Yes Means Yes” law requires campuses to have a confidential advising office for survivors. New York’s “Enough is Enough” law and the Campus Accountability and Safety Act now pending in the U.S. Senate both require confidential advisers on every college campus. Given the positive impact that a confidential adviser has on survivor reporting and recovery, it is likely we will see legislative action to protect advocate confidentiality.

Sexual Assault Climate Assessment at University of Texas

The University of Texas (UT) is undertaking a $1.7 million study of campus sexual assault across all 13 of its campuses.  Led by William McRaven, the chancellor of the UT system, the project is expected to take multiple years and will include an online student questionnaire, faculty and staff focus groups, and longitudinal studies of student experiences. This study is one of many sexual assault Campus Climate Survey projects sweeping the nation’s higher education institutions.

McRaven, who has been in his current role since January, is comparing his experience working with UT to his previous extensive experience with the military. McRaven is a retired four-star Navy admiral and a long-time Navy SEAL.  He is most known for his involvement in the operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011. While in the Navy, McRaven says that he knew sexual assault was a problem, but until he conducted a survey of personnel, the extent and breadth of the problem were unknown. “Frankly, I was stunned by the results,” he said. “The problem was a lot more entrenched, and a lot broader, than I thought it was.”

This experience has helped him realize that “I don’t have enough data just yet” to understand how big the sexual assault problem is in the UT system. This project will happen in conjunction with the UT-Austin campus taking part in the AAU survey, for which aggregate results are expected to be published this Fall.

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Representing Sexual Orientation in Think About It
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Every year, Senator Al Franken introduces the “Student Non-Discrimination Act,” which would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. And every year, the act has been defeated.

“There remains no federal law that explicitly protects these students and provides them and their families recourse when they face bullying that limits their educational opportunities,” said Senator Franken, explaining the importance of the bill. “No student can achieve if he cannot feel safe at school. No student will excel if she spends each day in fear of just being herself.”

While Senator Franken’s law failed to pass this year (again), there are nonetheless promising signs that the federal government is taking sexual orientation discrimination seriously. According to recent Title IX guidance documents, schools should train students and employees about same-sex sexual violence. In their 2014 Title IX FAQ , the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) explains that “Title IX protects all students from sexual violence, regardless of the sex of the alleged perpetrator or complainant, including when they are members of the same sex” (B-2). Later in the document, the OCR specifies that training for both employees and students should include information on same-sex sexual violence (J-1 & J-4).

Similarly, as we wrote about here, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently evolved its position on sexual orientation, arguing that Title VII protects employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation. The EEOC’s ruling could influence Title IX Cases as explained by Erin Buzuvis, a Professor of Law and co-founder of Title IX Blog:

“…even though it doesn’t govern the education context, the EEOC’s decision helps strengthen arguments by students or school employees who may have been excluded from participation, or fired, or denied admission, or harassed because of their sexual orientation, by giving courts and attorneys a road map of persuasive reasoning to follow.”

At CampusClarity, we believe it is important to create an inclusive course that adequately addresses the challenges all students face, regardless of their sexual orientation. We also recognize that the opportunities for us to improve our coverage of this issues, and we welcome comments from students and other users of our courses.

As part of our commitment to inclusivity and to help schools comply with their Title IX requirements, Think About It includes specific situations and scenarios that revolve around characters’ identities as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer.

One of the central narratives of the course involves a gay man. Tom Batak is one of four main characters whom students follow throughout the course. His biography explains that he has yet to disclose his sexual orientation to his Filipino parents. As users continue to follow Tom’s story, they see him come out to his roommate as gay (Healthy Relationships > Time Bomb), and they consider questions around an unhealthy relationship Tom is involved in.

Throughout the course, users are challenged to think about issues around sexual orientation and gender norms, including interactive scenarios involving same-sex couples or someone insulting a person because of their sexual-orientation.

Even when lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer identities aren’t directly discussed, the course remains inclusive of all sexual orientations. Examples of this can be found throughout the section of the course about hooking up as well as the dialogues around male sexual assault. Similarly, this inclusivity can be found through visual representations as well as text representations in places like the Dating After College video that shows a couple in which the sex of the partners is intentionally ambiguous.

We feel it is especially crucial for schools to address same-sex intimate partner and sexual violence because individuals in the LGBQ community face unique challenges when reporting. For instance, for individuals reporting same-sex sexual violence may mean outing themselves as either LGBQ or engaging in same-sex relations, whether they’re consensual or not.

Survivors can also be reluctant to report out of fear that their peer group will not believe them or will ostracize them. This problem is exacerbated for individuals in the LGBQ community, who may feel that the community they have found at college is the first one accepting of their identity. Losing that community would be devastating to those students, exactly at a time when the most need the support of friends.

Furthermore, as explained in a recent Huffington Post article, some survivors may fear “causing additional problems for their schools’ LGBT communities, many of which are already struggling to overcome discrimination and bias and which may be the only support networks available to some gay or trans survivors.

Same sex relationships (both sexual and romantic in nature) are not immune from violence.

As the school year begins, take a moment to assess the inclusivity of your school’s orientation programming and how it addresses same-sex sexual violence.

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Proposed Legislation Limits University Investigations
Posted by On Thursday, August 20, 2015

Rusted gated chained and locked shut

Two recent bills winding their way through congress could have serious implications for investigations of sexual assault at colleges and universities if they become law.

These two new bills would limit not only when a university could investigate a reported sexual assault, but also the type of sanctions that could be imposed on fraternities / sororities when one of its members is under investigation or found in violation of an institution’s code of conduct.

The two new bills titled the Safe Campus Act and the Fair Campus Act would prevent college investigations if the victim of a sexual assault chooses not to report it to local law enforcement. Not only that, but the “the institution may not initiate or otherwise carry out any institutional disciplinary proceeding with respect to the allegation, including imposing interim measures.” In some instances, these bills directly contradict mandates issued in Title IX that may require an institution to investigate even if the claimant does not wish it to. The arguments for the potential new laws hinge around a common refrain that will be familiar to Title IX coordinators and directors of student conduct around the country: “Universities don’t investigate murders and other serious felonies, why should they investigate and punish students without due process for something as serious as sexual assault?”

Universities establish their own codes of conduct to create safe and respectful living and learning environments. The processes for deciding whether or not a student is in violation of the university’s student conduct policies are different from the criminal justice system, and should remain that way. Decisions made by a university’s conduct process are internal, and not viable as civil penalties. A university can often take action when the criminal justice system cannot, and the university should maintain the ability to remove students for violating its terms of conduct and behavior on campus.

A student may have many reasons for not wanting to report an assault to local law enforcement. If universities have been criticized for mishandling sexual assault investigations, the criminal justice system is far more arcane, cumbersome, and complicated. Even when an assault is reported, it is unlikely to lead to arrest and prosecution. And with 400,000 untested rape kits throughout the United States, it’s difficult to imagine someone placing all or even any their trust in the civil justice system.

Contrary to most institution’s adjudication processes, the new bills also allow for greater participation from lawyers (hired at the expense of the complainant and respondent) who may now ask questions, file relevant papers, examine evidence, and examine witnesses (including the complainant). The new bills fundamentally change the institutional procedure into a duplicate of the courtroom environment. And it would be easy to see how complicated and unfair it might be for a student of means to hire an attorney (no matter which side they are on) if the other student cannot afford to do so. In my experience as a VP of Student Affairs at an urban private school, there were many instances where a complainant did not want to file a report against another student because the respondent had the ability and money to hire professional legal counsel.

Critics will counter that, with such high stakes on the table if someone is found in violation of a university’s sexual assault policies, lawyers are there to protect students from both sides. The recent prominence of lawsuits by students accused of assault exposes the enormous pressure that universities are under from both complainants and respondents. As the Huffington Post has reported, no higher education trade group has yet supported these bills; universities already recognize the complexities of these new governmental regulations and the importance of sustaining a process that is fair to everyone involved. Some common sense provisions, such as ensuring that university personnel do not fill dual roles (i.e., an investigator should not be an adjudicator, or a victim’s advocate should not be an appeals adjudicator) are included in the bills, but these are commonplace.

Though universities have attempted to remove many barriers for the reporting of sexual assault (which remain significantly underreported), they must remain committed to creating a system that ensures fairness for both claimants and respondents. In the face of an increasingly complex regulatory system and with conflicting interests, universities remain in an untenable middle. It would be nice to get clarity around the current regulatory scheme rather than limits to the response of the university.

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Campus Climate Surveys: Expert Opinions
Posted by On Wednesday, August 12, 2015

There is limited research out there on how best to develop and implement Sexual Assault Campus Climate Surveys because they’re a relatively new trend. “Experts” on campus climate surveys are a wide range of folks with related expertise, whether it be in government, in sexual assault prevention work, or as student affairs administrators.

On July 29th, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee heard testimony around reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. The Campus Accountability and Safety Act would amend the broader Higher Education Act, which Congress is working to reauthorize. It would require schools to gauge how often sexual assaults occur on their campuses and offer confidential advisers for victims.  Below are a few statements detailing how the amendment would impact climate surveys as well as the opinions of some thought-leaders in the field.

Statement of Senator Dean Heller

“Sexual assault is a crime that more often than not goes unreported, which is one of the reasons why data provided by our nation’s institutions simply do not reflect the prevalence of this crime. In fact, there are many colleges and universities that have reported zero incidences of sexual offenses to the federal government. I strongly believe one of the most important provisions of our bill is the campus climate survey. This survey will improve access to accurate, campus-level data by allowing students to anonymously share their experiences related to sexual assault. Under our bill, schools will give their students an anonymous, online survey to gauge the scope of sexual assault on campus and the effectiveness of current institutional policies on this issue. The Department of Education will be responsible for developing this survey, as well as picking up its cost. Schools just need to ensure an adequate, random, and representative sample of students take the survey. The survey results will be reported to Congress and published on the Department of Education’s website. Because this survey will be standardized, the American public will be able to compare the campus climate of all schools. As a father of four children, I wish I had access to this kind of information when my kids were preparing to attend college. And, now as a grandfather of two, my hope is that when they grow up and go off to school, our nation’s campuses will be safer than ever before. The campus climate survey will be a useful, educational tool for both students and parents, as well as an invaluable resource for institutions to help create or enhance efforts to prevent sexual assault, assist survivors of this crime, and improve campus safety overall.”

Testimony of Dana Bolger, co-founder of Know Your IX

“To counteract the potential negative reputational consequences of encouraging survivors to report, Congress should mandate that schools conduct campus climate surveys and publish their results publicly. This step would provide invaluable information to students and their families – including prospective students – and would increase incentives for schools to appropriately address violence. Schools should also be required to publish aggregate statistics on how investigations are being handled, which would provide greater insight into whether or not disciplinary proceedings are being handled promptly and equitably. This will help ensure that students, parents, and policymakers can evaluate and compare how each school responds to complaints of gender violence in practice, not just on paper.”

Testimony of Janet Napolitano, President of University of California

“CASA requires that the Department of Education develop, design and administer a standardized, online, annual survey of students regarding their experiences with sexual violence and harassment every two years. Having just conducted the largest university system climate survey of its kind in the nation, I have significant concerns about the usefulness of a single survey developed for all institutions given the broad diversity in higher education institutions across the nation and the student populations they serve. UC surveyed not only students, but also faculty and staff about their experiences and perceptions of the campus or workplace climate. We now have a rich baseline of data that campuses are analyzing to identify key areas of focus. Institutions should be allowed to develop and use their own climate surveys, as long as they meet criteria and standards defined by the Department of Education and are developed in consultation with stakeholders. Further, I believe that it is inappropriate for the legislation to place the responsibility on the university for ensuring that an adequate, random, and representative sample size of students enrolled at the institution completes the survey. This requirement could compromise the perceived anonymity of the survey and would be especially challenging if the survey would be administered by the Department of Education and not the institutions.”

There are many mixed thoughts around the Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act: Combating Campus Sexual Assault.  Much of this disagreement focuses around the inclusion of mandatory, government-created campus climate surveys.  In April of last year, the Huffington Post published an article detailing some of the differing views about this component of the legislation. (For more information on CASA read our past coverage.)

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SAVE THE DATE! CampusClarity Annual Summit 2016
Posted by On Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Save the Date! CampusClarity Annual Summit

CampusClarity is excited to announce that we’ll be hosting our first ever Annual Summit in 2016, and you’re invited!

Save the date for the CampusClarity Annual Summit in Indianapolis on Friday, March 11th 2016, the day before the NASPA Annual conference events begin.  The Summit will unite campus administrators passionate about addressing some of the most pressing concerns with campuses today. Topics to be covered will include Campus Climate Surveys, Alcohol & Drug Abuse, Sexual Assault, Bystander Intervention, Hazing, and Think About It: Case Studies.

Share knowledge, gain insight, and network with over 200 industry experts and student affairs leaders, and many of our 500+ campus partners who are already using Think About It to meet Title IX and Campus SaVE Act compliance.

Full agenda, presenter info, and registration details to follow.

If there are specific topics you’d like for us to cover, or if you or your institution would like to present, please reach out to our CampusClarity Community Manager, Ashley Schwedt, at ThinkAboutIt@CampusClarity.com.

Hope to see you in Indianapolis!

CampusClarity Team
@CampusClarity | #CampusClarity16

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, August 7, 2015

In this week’s roundup —  the Department of Justice launches a new website to help schools prevent sexual violence, Netflix makes a big announcement that may have impact other employers, and an interview with a professor who studies how roommates influence each other.

DOJ Launches Website

The U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women launched its new website changingourcampus.org, which Principal Deputy Director Bea Hanson of the OVW said provides “access to cutting-edge tools, including sample policies, protocols, and best practices, that can be adapted and replicated on colleges and universities across the country.” Here’s a sample of what you’ll find:

  • Links to U.S. Department of Education guidance documents, OCR Title IX Resolutions, the VAWA regulations, and FERPA information in one place
  • Links to national resources, recent research and publications on preventing and responding to sexual violence
  • Online prevention efforts and ideas, including CampusClarity
  • Resources for stakeholders, including links to helpful information for organizing and maintaining an effective conduct and disciplinary process
  • Links to Victim Services/Advocates, including a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services resource that helps find health care and mental health facilities in your community

Netflix Offers Unlimited Maternal/Paternal Leave

In a momentous move by Netflix, the world’s leading internet subscription service for watching movies and television shows, the company has decided to change its maternity/paternity leave policies. Effective immediately, new moms and dads, from either childbirth or adoption, will have the ability to take as much paid time off as needed within the first year of parenthood. The press release goes on to state that, “We want employees to have the flexibility and confidence to balance the needs of their growing families without worrying about work or finances. Parents can return part-time, full-time, or return and then go back out as needed.”  This is an especially impressive move due to the current federal regulations around maternity leave.  The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 only mandates that new mothers (who work in a company of 50+ people, have worked there for 12 months, and have worked at least 1,250 hours over the last year) receive a minimum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave.  With the current state of maternity/paternity leave being abysmal, Netflix is trailblazing an employee-centered approach that allows for empowerment and self-accountability.  The Netflix Chief Talent Officer, Tawni Cranz, believes that this will lead to increased focus and dedication of employees.

How Colleges Assign Roommates, and Why It Matters [Gated]

As students start arriving on campuses across the country, many will be meeting the people they will be living with for the next year — for the first time. In this article, The Chronicle‘s Beckie Supiano interviews Bruce Sacerdote, who studies the effects roommates have on each other. Professor Sacerdote claims that more and more schools are randomly assigning roommates to each other. This trend is a good thing, he thinks. Randomization, according Sacerdote, “stimulates cross-geographic, cross-race, cross-cultural interaction.” Basically, Sacerdote’s research indicates that roommates have little effect on GPA, but do affect students’ drinking and social behavior. Interestingly, Professor Sacerdote also claims roommates influence job choice: “so if you happen to get someone who’s interested in finance, it makes you significantly more likely to pursue that both in internships and as a career.” No matter how your campus assigns roommates, the friendships and acquaintances your first-years make this fall will impact them for the rest of their lives.

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Campus Climate Surveys: Published Data & Results
Posted by On Thursday, August 6, 2015

As the desire for Sexual Assault Climate Surveys builds momentum on college campuses, important information can be gathered from schools who have already implemented surveys. Our first post on climate surveys last week described the purpose of climate surveys and some initial resources to consider if you’re looking to implement a survey on your campus.

Barnard College (Barnard), University of Chicago (UChicago), University of Michigan (Michigan), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and University of Nevada-Reno (UNR) have all published results from campus climate surveys they’ve implemented on their campuses in the last few years. All of the schools except for Michigan sent out a survey to all students on their campus. and the response rates ranged from 28% to 35%.  Michigan sent out their survey to a random representative sample of 3,000 students and received a response rate of 67%. Each school had a higher response rate for self-identified females than males by 9-11%.

Below are a few summarized take-aways from the reports of these five schools.

  • Over 80% of women report hearing sexist jokes or remarks since being in college.
  • Of those who have been sexually assaulted, anywhere from 45-65% say that they told someone about the experience, however only 3-5% officially reported the assault.
  • Anywhere from 8-10% of women report experiencing non-consensual sexual penetration since being in college.
  • Over 60% of students report having a friend who has experienced sexual assault.

In April, the Association of American Universities partnered with Westat to develop a sexual assault climate survey for 28 (included Dartmouth, a non-AAU member) of its member universities to implement on their campuses. The same survey will be used for all 28 campuses, and the AAU has committed to publishing aggregate data across all survey users. A results comparison just from Barnard, UChicago, Michigan, MIT, and UNR shows that there will likely be similar outcomes across campuses, despite unique campus demographics. These consistencies lead to the conclusion that sexual assault on college campuses is an epidemic rather than many isolated incidents. Hopefully the new survey data will propel educators, policy-makers, parents, and other stakeholders into action to create societal change around the climate of sexual assault both on and off college campuses.

Our third post in the Campus Climate Surveys series will come out next week, detailing what research and experts are saying about the importance and potential impact of these surveys.

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