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Free Webinar with Dr. Novak
Posted by On Monday, March 16, 2015

Peter NovakTomorrow, we will be hosting a free webinar with Dr. Peter Novak, the Vice Provost for Student Life at the University of San Francisco. If you haven’t already done so be sure to register today.

During this 45-minute webinar, Dr. Novak will answer questions about how he and USF built and deployed their NASPA Gold Excellence award-winning Campus SaVE Act Training Program for students, faculty, and staff, and overcame challenges associated with deploying the campus-wide initiative.

Dr. Novak has an extensive background in Student Life with considerable experience as an academic and administrator in social justice issues. He received his doctorate in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism from Yale University. In addition to his doctorate, he holds an MFA from the American Conservatory Theater and an MA in English from Loyola University Chicago.

At Yale Dr. Novak served as Dean of Trumbull College , on the Provost’s Committee on Resources for Students and Employees with Disabilities, and on the Fund for Lesbian and Gay Studies. He is also a founding chair and tenured full professor in the Performing Arts and Social Justice program at the University of San Francisco. His research focuses on diversity and language, LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS dramatic literature, and Deaf culture and American Sign Language translation.

In December 2011, dissatisfied with the online training USF was offering incoming students, Dr. Novak approached LawRoom to build Think About It, an online training program for incoming students that addressed campus sexual assault and substance abuse. Dr. Novak had been impressed by the quality of LawRoom’s online harassment training programs developed for faculty and staff, and he felt LawRoom would be a valuable partner in creating a cutting edge, engaging online program on substance abuse and sexual violence for incoming students.

The collaboration brought together LawRoom’s expertise in legal compliance and online training with USF’s experience handling the unique social challenges students face in their transition to college life. As a result of their work, LawRoom developed CampusClarity, a service of LawRoom that is dedicated to creating training solutions for the higher education community.

USF and CampusClarity worked together extensively in the creation of the course. They conducted focus groups and user panels with students to refine the voice and tone of the course and make sure scenarios reflected realistic situations. Additionally, numerous department representatives and programs at USF, including the Gender and Sexualities Center and Health Promotions, helped develop learning objectives and course content. During the development process, USF and CampusClarity also hosted a conference with faculty and staff from 30 universities in order to prepare the course for a diverse group of campuses.

Since the development of Think About It, USF and CampusClarity have continued to collaborate on other initiatives and projects, such as the Talk About It community, a collection of resources administrators can use to implement ongoing programming on their campuses around the issues of sexual violence and alcohol abuse.

Tomorrow, Dr. Novak will talk in more detail about other initiatives he’s implemented at USF. Among other things, he will talk about balancing training with other priorities in Student life and how to create an effective program with limited staff, limited time, and limited budget.

His talk will be valuable for schools looking for ways to improve their current programs, and for schools that are just developing their training programs.

Dr. Novak will also discuss practical solutions for going beyond SaVE Act compliance, including:

- Deploying a campus-wide training program prior to the June deadline.
- How to help ensure adoption of the program by students and faculty.
- On-going educational programming based on institutional data.

Please go to our registration page to sign up for our free webinar if you haven’t already.

 

 

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, November 14, 2014

Collective punishment for fraternities, the latest video by “It’s On Us,” and a timeline of sexual assault news from the last year.

Is Collective Punishment for Fraternities an Effective Prevention Technique?

In the wake of sexual assaults, fatal accidents, and other tragedies associated with fraternity parties, more and more colleges are turning to what some have deemed collective punishment: restricting or eliminating social events for all Greek organizations on campus, not just those associated with prior incidents. At Johns Hopkins all fraternity parties are banned until the end of the current semester, following a reported rape at Sigma Alpha Epsilon, despite the fact that neither the assailants nor the victim were associated with the fraternity. At Emory University all Greek social activities have been suspended following an assault at a fraternity house, and at MIT fraternity gatherings cannot exceed 49 people—the result of an accident in which a woman fell out of a fraternity window. Some commentators applaud such steps as common sense preventative measures while others have criticized such steps as unfair to fraternities and sororities that may be doing everything right and still be punished for a different group’s misdeeds or carelessness.

“It’s On Us” Promotes Bystander Intervention

Check out the latest spot from the White House’s “It’s On Us” anti-sexual assault campaign, which doubles-down on the theme of bystander intervention with a dramatization of a college-aged young man preventing sexual assault at a party. The video, narrated by Mad Men actor Jon Hamm, reflects current research suggesting bystander intervention may be a particularly promising prevention strategy. Other efforts will include partnerships with professional sports leagues, efforts to change the tone of victim-blaming conversations on the internet, and prizes for students who submit innovative strategies for bystander intervention.

A Timeline of Campus Sexual Assault

The past year has seen numerous developments in the fight against sexual assault on college campuses, including a White House campaign, new laws, and the latest count of 85 OCR investigations. This interactive infographic from Al-Jazeera America provides a timeline of the most relevant stories from the past year, serving as both useful summary and convenient resource.

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, October 24, 2014

Here’s the latest news in sexual violence prevention efforts.

What Happens to Perpetrators Who Transfer?

Plenty has been made of American colleges and universities’ failure to investigate and hold responsible perpetrators of sexual assault. This Huffington Post piece asks a different question. What’s to stop a perpetrator who is being investigated, or has been held responsible for their actions, from transferring to a different institution, where they will have the opportunity to perpetrate the same crimes all over again? The answer, unfortunately, appears to be nothing. Very few schools forward information about completed or ongoing disciplinary investigations involving students transferring to other institutions, and few if any schools request such information when accepting transfers. The piece notes a number of cases in which students investigated or even expelled for sexual violence, sometimes at multiple schools, were accepted at other institutions where they went on to continue to commit more assaults. While a school cannot prevent a student from withdrawing, or enforce sanctions after they have transferred, activists in the article suggest that, in light of research showing that many perpetrators of sexual assault are serial predators, some sort of system should be implemented to standardize what information about students’ disciplinary records is shared when they transfer from one institution to another.

Could a New Online Tool Increase Reporting?

That’s what the would-be creators of a new online-reporting tool called Callisto believe. The tool, designed by nonprofit company Sexual Health Innovations with input from anti-sexual violence groups, including Know Your IX, Faculty Against Rape, and End Rape on Campus, would allow victim/survivors to report their assaults online. They could then choose to submit the report or not submit, in which case it would be saved it as a time-stamped report. It would also show victim/survivors whether the accused perpetrator had been implicated in other incidents. Sexual Health Innovation’s Founder and Executive Director, Jessica Ladd, says that interviews that went into the tool’s development suggest it could triple reporting. Callisto, which has not yet been fully developed, is currently fundraising on crowdfunding-platform Crowdrise, where it has blown past an initial $10,000 goal. The folks behind Callisto plan to continue fundraising, estimating that development will ultimately cost around $200,000. If you want to donate or learn more, follow the link above.

Federal Sexual Violence Investigations Up 50%

On the topic of increased reporting, the number of federal investigations of schools suspected of mishandling sexual assault cases has increased by 50% since the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights first began releasing the list of schools being investigated. The list of schools, which includes UC Berkeley, the University of Virginia, and Princeton University, has increased from 59 schools to 89 since May. According to Assistant Education Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon , “The list is growing partly because we’ve told people we will be there for them. And there’s value in coming to us.” While the growth in the number of federal investigations may represent a positive development in that respect, it also represents a challenge, given the lengthy process of investigating a school’s sexual assault response and determining what steps should be taken to correct any shortcomings. Investigations have been known to take as long as four years from start to finish.

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, October 17, 2014

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In recognition of the occasion, as well as a very serious and important issue on college campuses, we have three stories for you about domestic and dating violence and what can be done to prevent it.

Sexual Assault Activists Turning Their Attention to Dating Violence

After successfully starting a national conversation about sexual assault on college campuses, and beginning to create actual change around the issue, feminist activists are turning their attention to another very important topic: domestic and dating violence amongst college students. The 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act added a provision to the Clery Act requiring schools to disclose the number of domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking incidents reported on campus. Now, student activists are documenting institutions that have failed to comply with new requirements. The issue of relationship violence on college campuses is a particularly pressing one, given research suggesting that college-aged women are the most likely to be victim/survivors of dating and domestic violence. Hopefully, some of the same tactics that have been shown to help prevent sexual assaults, including bystander intervention and training, will help turn the tide against domestic and dating violence as well.

What Can Employers Do for Victim/Survivors of Domestic Violence?

Of course, domestic violence is a threat not just to college-aged women but to people of all ages. That ugly fact has an equally ugly corollary: that domestic violence can often spill over into the workplace. This piece, from Fast Company, recognizes that fact, and suggests a few simple measures that employers can take to protect their employees from potentially dangerous intimate partners. Author Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., a Manhattan District Attorney, notes the importance of recognizing the signs that an employee is being abused and offering victim/survivors support in the workplace. Specifically, he points out that, “Companies should have proactive mechanisms in place to support victims, provide them with services, and keep them safe.” He recommends simple but important steps such as tailoring a victim/survivor’s schedule and work location to their needs, making security aware of the situation and the identity of the abuser, and having an emergency contact in the event the victim/survivor cannot be reached.

Can Training Prevent Domestic Violence?

The NFL has caught a fair amount of well-deserved flak this season for its accommodating stance towards players widely known to be guilty of domestic abuse. There are, of course, any number of things the NFL could and should have done better. One particularly interesting suggestion comes from violence prevention educator Jackson Katz, who has worked with NFL players in the past. Katz is part of the Mentors in Violence Program, which trains young men not to perpetrate sexual and domestic violence. He believes that a more consistent anti-domestic violence training program in the NFL could help change a culture that tacitly accepts violence against women. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has promised to implement just such a program for all players in the wake of this year’s scandals. It may well be that training in other settings—including academic ones—could be a much needed step to combat domestic violence in society beyond the football field.

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Wednesday, October 15, 2014

For this week’s roundup we have three developments in higher education law you should be following.

Clery Reports Reveal Dramatic Increase in Reported Sexual Assaults

Last week schools across the country released their Clery Annual Security Reports, which include statistics on the number of reported sexual assaults occurring on or near campus. This year’s batch of Security Reports reveals a dramatic increase in the number of reported sexual assaults at America’s top 25 colleges and universities. Perhaps counterintuitively, the increase in reported assaults is good news for activists and others trying to combat the epidemic of sexual violence on American campuses.  Historically, sexual assaults have been under reported  meaning that many victims did not receive the help they needed to recover. Activists believe that the increased number of assaults being reported is a positive result of the increased awareness around the issue in the last several years. Victim/survivors of sexual assault are more likely to report the crime knowing that their experience is not unique, that there are those who care enough to support and help them, and that by reporting their assault they may help remove the threat of a serial offender from their community.

Cuomo Follows California’s Lead in New SUNY Sexual Assault Policies

Last week we reported on California’s new consent law, the so-called “yes means yes” bill that requires a standard of affirmative consent at schools across the state. Now, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is following the Golden State’s lead by implementing a similar policy at all 64 State University of New York campuses. Other policy changes include statewide training programs for administrators, students, and parents, and immunity for students who report assaults that occurred when they were violating campus rules and laws (such as bans on underage drinking). In addition, SUNY campuses are required to distribute a Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights, informing victim/survivors of their right to report assaults to the police or campus security. These new sexual assault policies represent not only a change in how SUNY handles sexual violence, but also the first time that uniform sexual assault policies apply across all 64 campuses. When announcing the change Cuomo noted that sexual assault is a national problem, saying, “I would suggest it should be SUNY’s problem to solve and SUNY’s place to lead.”

New California Law Protects Pregnant Graduate Students

In addition to the aforementioned affirmative consent bill, California has passed another law to remove obstacles for women in higher education. The bill was inspired by research conducted by Mary Ann Mason and co-authors Nicholas H. Wolfinger and Marc Goulden. Their research demonstrated that pregnancy and child-rearing represented major professional setbacks to women in academia. For instance, according to the research, “married mothers who earn Ph.D.’s are 28 percent less likely to obtain a tenure-track job than are married men with children who earn Ph.D.’s.” Anecdotal evidence abounds that the discrepancy is due to discrimination, with stories of advisors demanding that female graduate students return to research positions shortly after giving birth, or refusing to give letters of recommendation to women who took too long to return after having a baby. Protections for pregnant women created by the Family Medical Leave Act, Title VII, and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act usually do not  apply to graduate students, who are rarely classified as full-time employees, and Title IX protections are all-too-often ignored. The new law will fill this unfortunate gap, guaranteeing pregnant students at least a year of leave and non-birth parents at least one month, as well as requiring grad schools to create written policies “on pregnancy discrimination and procedures for addressing pregnancy discrimination complaints under Title IX or this section.”

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, October 3, 2014

For this week’s roundup we return to oft-discussed but important theme of what role fraternities do and should be playing in the campus sexual assault crisis.

No, Fraternities’ Biggest Problem is Not Drunk Women

Last week Forbes published a thought piece by one Bill Frezza, president of the alumni house corporation for MIT fraternity Chi Phi Beta. Between Frezza’s troubling title, “Drunk Female Guests Are the Gravest Threat to Fraternities,” and the disturbing allegation that intoxicated women are the cause of sexual assault, as opposed to the men who assault them, the piece came in for its well-deserved share of criticism, and was eventually pulled by Forbes. In this opinion piece, Time Magazine does an excellent job demonstrating that fraternities are in fact their own biggest problem, pointing to the high number of hazing-related deaths (events that involve no women, drunk or otherwise), the well-documented plague of binge-drinking that afflicts frat members themselves, and the qualitative evidence provided by the insurance industry, which universally considers fraternities to be an extremely high risk, ranked just below hazardous waste disposal companies and asbestos contractors. Of course, the piece also acknowledges the worst part of Frezza’s article: its misogyny and victim-blaming.

Fraternity Culture at CU-Boulder [Video]

In an effort to better understand the problem of sexual assault on US campuses the BBC Pop Up team embedded themselves for a month in a house near the University of Colorado Boulder. CU-Boulder currently faces a federal investigation into their handling of sexual assault cases. This video focuses on the role fraternities play in the problem. Interviews with a variety of students, including a victim/survivor of sexual assault and a current fraternity member, reveal various opinions about the issue, although a number of students voice concerns about the way fraternities on the CU-Boulder campus approach women and partying.

Fraternities Attempt to Address Drinking, Sexual Assault through Education

Encouragingly, some fraternities are beginning to take steps to combat sexual violence and substance abuse through education. A group of eight national fraternities has joined together to form the Fraternal Health & Safety Initiative. The group will use three “trainer-led program modules” developed by risk management consulting group James R. Favor & Co. to teach bystander intervention techniques to 35,000 students at 350 campuses. According to Justin Buck, executive vice president and CEO of Pi Kappa Alpha, “The power of the FHSI curriculum is that it exposes young men to consistent, authentic techniques no matter their fraternal membership or college affiliation.”

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“Survivor-Centered”: Interview with Peter Novak [Part 2 of 3]
Posted by On Tuesday, September 30, 2014

In this second excerpt from CampusClarity’s interview with Peter Novak, he discusses the value of clear, coordinated, and survivor-centered policies and reporting procedures in dealing with issues of sexual misconduct on campus, and how the support of survivors is intrinsic to the goals of Title IX.

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Interview with USF Vice Provost Peter Novak [Part 1 of 3]
Posted by On Wednesday, September 24, 2014

CampusClarity recently interviewed Peter Novak, Vice Provost of Student Life at the University of San Francisco, about Student Life’s harm-prevention programming this Fall. The interview sheds light on how one school is approaching these important issues. We’ll be publishing the interview in three installments this week.

In this excerpt from that interview, Vice Provost Novak discusses how to use data collected by “Think About It” along with elements and themes from the course as a basis for expanded programming on sexual violence and substance abuse on campus.

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, September 19, 2014

For this week’s roundup we have three stories about the latest in substance abuse and sexual violence prevention efforts.

New White House Campaign Enlists Men in the Fight against Sexual Assault

Today President Obama and Vice President Biden announced a new campaign intended to encourage bystander intervention preventing sexual assault on college campuses. The campaign, called “It’s On Us,” is intended for all students, but is particularly focused on men. Research suggests that although the majority of college-aged men disapprove of sexual assault and sexual violence, they may be reluctant to speak out against it due to the mistaken belief that their peers will disagree. “It’s On Us” will attempt to dispel that belief. The campaign will be promoted on its website, social media and through partnerships with colleges, organizations, and private parties.

University of California Announces Plans to Take Action on Sexual Assault

In June, University of California President Janet Napolitano formed a task force on preventing and responding to sexual violence to investigate ways the University of California system could improve its current policies and procedures. This week, the task force announced seven recommendations to improve the UC’s response to sexual violence. The recommendations aim to create a more consistent, system-wide approach to these issues, including the creation of campus response teams, the standardization of adjudication and investigation procedures, the introduction of comprehensive training for students and employees, and the establishment on each campus of an independent, confidential advocacy office to support survivors. Napolitano praised the task force’s recommendations, calling them a “testament to the collaborative and rigorous approach the university is taking to become the national leader in preventing and combating sexual violence and sexual assault.”

Colleges Finding Ways to Fight Binge Drinking

If binge drinking on college campuses sometimes seems like an intractable problem, schools like Frostburg State University are proving that with the right policies administrators can reduce reckless drinking amongst their student population. Frostburg has partnered with local law enforcement, bars, and lawmakers to step up police presence around campus and limit students’ access to alcohol. They also have increased the number of Friday classes in an effort to reduce Thursday night drinking, and begun a campaign highlighting the less attractive aspects of drinking to excess. While some of the new policies are less-than-popular with students, they do seem to be having the intended effect. The number of Frostburg students who binge drink at least once every two weeks is down from 57% to 41%, much closer to the national average.

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, September 12, 2014

Substance abuse is a persistent problem on college campuses. What role does brain chemistry play in young people’s vulnerability to alcohol and other drugs? These two articles suggest some answers.

Brain Chemistry and the Low Price of Drinks Drive College Binge Drinking

What is it that drives some college students to drink to excess again and again and again? This piece from NPR explains that there are multiple factors driving college binge drinking. One is brain chemistry. College-aged brains are still developing, so while the part of the brain that seeks reward and stimulation is fully mature by the time 18 year olds begin their freshman year, the bits that control impulsive behavior still have a ways to go. This imbalance is what makes taking too many shots or playing drinking games seem so appealing. The other big factor may seem more obvious, but is also more controllable. The lower the average price of a drink in an area, the more binge drinking is reported amongst local college students.

Adolescent Marijuana Use Correlates to “All Adverse Young Adult Outcomes”

A new study from the British journal The Lancet Psychiatry suggests that teenaged marijuana use correlates strongly to a variety of alarming outcomes. Teen pot-smokers were 60% less likely than peers to graduate from high school, 60% less likely to finish college, seven times more likely to attempt suicide and eight times more likely to use other illegal drugs than their non-smoking counterparts. Significantly, the authors found that even “low levels” of marijuana use (as infrequently as once per month) greatly increased teens risks of the aforementioned negative outcomes when compared to teens who did not smoke marijuana at all, suggesting that “there may not be a threshold where [cannabis] use can be deemed safe” for adolescents. With the legal landscape shifting quickly on the issue of marijuana possession and use, it seems clear that any legislative reforms must take pains to keep cannabis out of the hands of teen users.

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