peter novak

Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, June 5, 2015

The University of San Francisco adopts an innovative new reporting tool, an in-depth look at the facts of false rape reports, and a look back at gains made by student activists over the past year.

USF Launches Online Reporting Tool Callisto

A while back we reported on a new online reporting tool, Callisto, whose proponents believed could dramatically improve the experience of victim/survivors who wanted to report their assaults. Now, for the first time, a university has made plans to use Callisto to allow its students to report sexual violence. The school in question is the University of San Francisco, an institution which has taken the lead on sexual violence prevention in the past, notably collaborating with CampusClarity to produce the first Think About It program. According to USF Vice Provost of Student Life Peter Novak, Callisto can “really change culture” for reporting on the USF campus. The app, which was developed by nonprofit Sexual Health Innovations, has numerous features that could be helpful for a victim/survivor of sexual assault, including the ability to make a time stamped report that they can choose to send in later or if the same perpetrator is named in a subsequent report.

The Cold, Hard Facts of False Rape Reports

It is sometimes claimed that false rape reports could represent anywhere from 1.5% to 90% of the total number of reported rapes. While that range—all but meaningless in its width—may have once represented the extent of our knowledge about the prevalence and nature of false rape reports, today numerous studies have provided a much clearer picture of the nature of this particular problem. This piece from Vox takes a look at studies that took a more rigorous approach to determining whether a report was false or not, either by looking at reports from police who had been trained on the definition of a false report or by investigating the facts of a case to determine whether the evidence did indeed suggest a false report. These studies, taken together, support the growing consensus amongst those who follow issues of sexual violence that false reports account for between 2% and 8% of total reports of rape. They also reveal some interesting, potentially important trends in those false reports. Nearly 80% of false reports “fit the definition of an ‘aggravated rape’”—one involving a weapon, multiple assailants, or injury to the victim/survivor. Almost 50% of false reports described the perpetrator as a stranger as opposed to an acquaintance. Most reports were filed within a day of the alleged incident. According to one researcher, false rape reports were more likely to provide a “clear and coherent” timeline of the attack. These facts suggest that individuals who make false rape reports tend to stick to a narrative based on common misperceptions about how most rape occurs. It also suggests that many of the features of a report traditionally seen as potential “red flags” of a false claim—a delayed report, a confused and confusing story, situations involving intoxications or perpetrators known by the victim/survivor—may in fact be just the opposite.

Big Gains for Activists in 2015

Despite the numerous stories we cover in this space about the work that still needs to be done, there have been real successes over the past few years for those working to prevent campus sexual violence. This piece from the Huffington Post covers notable successes of a very important player in this fight—student activists. These include efforts to improve campus safety and school policies, the successes of the “It’s On Us” campaign, and reforms made by schools at the behest of student activists.

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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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“A Leadership Role”: Interview with Peter Novak [Part 3 of 3]
Posted by On Monday, October 6, 2014

In our last installment from CampusClarity’s interview with Peter Novak, he discusses how colleges and universities can take a leadership role in stopping sexual misconduct and substance abuse by setting goals that may at first seem counter-intuitive.

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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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Peter Novak Discusses Campus Assault on KQED’s Forum
Posted by On Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Peter Novak appeared on Forum with Michael Krasny today. Forum is a call-in program on KQED, the Bay Area’s NPR affiliate.  Today’s show focused on campus sexual assault.

Novak is Vice Provost for Student Life at USF and worked closely with us to develop Think About It. He discussed USF’s  multi-faceted approach to tackling campus assault, which includes having incoming students take Think About It.

Also on the show,  California congresswoman Jackie Speier spoke about the federal legislation she plans on introducing to protect students from sexual assault.

The whole segment is worth a listen. You can find it here.

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What Happened at NASPA
Posted by On Friday, March 21, 2014

This week part of our team attended NASPA’s 2014 conference in Baltimore. Beside some brief snow flurries, which frightened our California sensibilities, the conference was immensely helpful and interesting.

Peter Novak and his colleagues presented a panel discussion on Think About It to a packed audience on Monday. As the session started, ushers had to turn away people because there were no seats left. In addition to the 170+ in the room, another 100 or so participated online, asking questions as the session was streamed to them.

In addition to Peter, the panel’s speakers were Carol Day, the Director of Heath Education Services at Georgetown University, Cori Planagan, the Director of Orientation at University of Idaho, and Deeqa Mohamed, a Student Peer Educator at University of San Francisco. All of the presenters were excellent, sharing the ways they’ve used Think About It as the foundation for their drug, alcohol, and sexual assault awareness and prevention education program at their universities.

We were particularly impressed with Deeqa Mohammed, who was presenting at her first conference. She spoke about using the course during brief motivational interviews. She uses the course’s videos and interactions as launching points for more in-depth conversations with her peers. For example, she might play some of the “hook up” culture video to a student to encourage them to talk about their expectations around relationships and hooking up, helping them become more aware of the pressures they face.

We enjoyed meeting with and talking to other attendees who had valuable insights into new resources and pressing issues on college campuses.

For instance, we spoke with an administrator from Purdue’s Military Family Research Institute about the importance of meeting the unique needs of veterans on campus. Meanwhile, a representative of the National Center for Responsible Gaming explained the dangers of gambling addiction among undergraduates.

Changing campus culture and educating students about how to stay safe during their college years is an ongoing process that requires delivering information, having conversations, exchanging ideas, and creating a community of engaged and enthusiastic participants. We saw a lot of that at NASPA.

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Think About It at NASPA 2014
Posted by On Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Next week the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) will be holding their annual conference in Baltimore. We’re excited to announce that Peter Novak, Vice Provost for Student Life at USF, is coordinating a presentation on Think About It at 10 am on Monday, March 17th.

Think About It is a comprehensive online training program that we developed in collaboration with USF to help schools reduce sexual violence and substance abuse. The course won the 2014 Gold NASPA Excellence Award for Violence Education and Prevention.

The session is called “Beyond Compliance: a comprehensive, interactive, and engaging campus-wide alcohol/drugs and sexual violence prevention curriculum.” The presenters include Carol Day, the director of Health Education Services at Georgetown University, Cori Planagan, the director of orientation at the University of Idaho, and Deeqa Mohamed, a Student Peer Educator at USF.

They will discuss their experiences integrating Think About It into a diverse range of campus prevention programming, covering topics from digital peer mentoring and social norming to creating community partnerships.

Ultimately, Think About It and our follow-up courses should augment a larger set of ongoing campus initiatives. That’s why we’ve been developing materials alongside USF — such as workshop guides and posters — to help schools move beyond compliance with the SaVE Act and Title IX to encourage deeper student engagement with the issues of sexual violence and  substance abuse.

As we hope this presentation will show, the online courses themselves, with their rich media interactions and compelling stories, also provide administrators with invaluable tools for engaging their students in innovative ways.

For instance, we’ve talked to residence hall advisers who use the BAC Apparatus during orientation to lead conversations with incoming students about smart drinking. We’ve also talked to first-years who have used the videos and stories as touchstones for their own discussions about these important issues.

If you miss the presentation, we will also be hosting a poster session on Tuesday from 9 to 10:15 as well as running a booth in the exhibit hall.

We’re excited about the opportunity to share more at the presentation. We hope you will join us.

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CampusClarity Wins Gold at the Annual Stevie Awards
Posted by On Friday, September 20, 2013

Think About It won a Gold Stevie Award for Best Training Site at the 11th Annual American Business Awards. Think About It is CampusClarity’s online training program on sexual violence and substance abuse for undergraduates and a compliance resource for college and university administrators.

The Stevies, considered the Oscars of the business world, are open to all U.S.-based organizations. With over 3,200 entries, this year’s awards were a record-breaking size. More than 320 executives from across the country judged the entries.

The award-winning Think About It addresses campus sexual violence and substance abuse through a harm-reduction model that also helps schools comply with the Campus SaVE Act and Title IX.

The program is a collaboration between CampusClarity, a service of LawRoom, and the University of San Francisco’s Division of Student Life. Instructional designers, student affairs administators, and lawyers worked alongside students to develop an effective course that would speak to students’ college experiences.

Think About It includes bystander intervention training, customizable campus policies and resources, state specific laws on sexual and domestic violence, social norming exercises, a comprehensive discussion of consent, and in-depth reports on student attitudes and behaviors.

More than thirty-five colleges and universities nationwide use Think About It to train their students.

Accepting the gold for Think About It were Jeremy Beckman, Chief Instructional Designer at LawRoom, and Peter Novak, Vice Provost for Student Life at the University of San Francisco.

“It means a great deal,” Novak said about the award. “It allows us to further collaborate on prospective projects and to really be of service to university students across the country.”

LawRoom has been a leader in employment law compliance and training since it began in 1994. It has helped private and public companies, non-profits, and government entities comply with employment regulations. This year marked the first time the company participated in the American Business Awards or Stevies.

In addition to winning gold for Think About It, LawRoom also took home silver for its online sexual-harassment training, Lenses

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