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Free Workshops for Employees on Discrimination and Harassment
Posted by On Thursday, October 30, 2014

silhouette of woman looking at flowersAlthough recent focus has been on training students, it is critical that colleges and universities also train faculty and staff on issues related to sexual harassment and discrimination. After all, faculty and staff play an important role in creating a supportive campus where everyone feels safe and respected. These short workshops provide you with two valuable resources to educate faculty and staff. The first is directed to all staff while the second addresses the role and responsibilities of supervisors. The workshops were developed by Kent Mannis, our Senior Editor.

The Anti-Harassment interactive lecture and discussion guide will reinforce your schools’ commitment to preventing workplace sexual harassment. By examining a purported “office romance” scenario, employees will review the legal standards for a “hostile work environment,” the school’s restrictions (if any) on personal relationships, and your anti-harassment reporting policy and procedures. This workshop is appropriate for all staff.

The Supervisors’ Role in Preventing Harassment interactive lecture and discussion guide will reinforce your school’s policy against harassment and discrimination, and help supervisors understand their responsibility to avoid, prevent, and respond to harassment and discrimination. By reviewing real-world scenarios, supervisors will understand the importance of taking prompt action to prevent misconduct, what to do if trouble occurs, and the consequences of inaction.

To download the workshops visit our Talk About It Community.

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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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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, September 5, 2014

Just this year the Department of Education released guidance making Title IX protections for transgender and gender non-conforming students explicit. The move came on the heels of years of controversy surrounding the treatment of transgender students, on topics such as housing, bathroom use, and even disciplinary actions. Here are three recent stories about policy changes, federal exemptions, and the challenges faced by transgender and gender non-conforming students.

Women’s Colleges Open Their Doors to Transgender Women

Several traditionally all-female colleges have changed their policies to make them more officially welcoming to transgender and non-gender conforming applicants and students. Mills College, an all-female university in the San Francisco Bay Area, recently changed school policy to officially reflect the long-time practice of accepting self-identified females who are “transgender or gender fluid.” Transgender male students who transition while attending Mills will be welcome to stay on. Similarly, Mount Holyoke College announced a change to their admissions policy this week to explicitly welcome transgender applicants. Under the new policy, the school will accept any applicant who is not a cisgender male. Mount Holyoke President Lynn Pasquerella introduced the amended policy as a move to recognize “human rights at home.” The change has been met largely with enthusiasm from students and alumni.

Christian Colleges Seek Title IX Exemptions to Expel Transgender Students

Since the Education Department’s guidance explicitly expanded Title IX protections to transgender students, several Christian colleges have sought and received exemptions allowing them to discriminate against transgender students while still receiving federal funding. Citing religious beliefs, George Fox University received an exemption to deny housing to a transgender student. Exemptions granted to Spring Arbor University and Simpson University go a step further, allowing them to expel transgender students and reject transgender applicants. Such policies have existed for years on the campuses in question, but will now remain legal despite the Education Department’s guidance. Executive director of Campus Pride, an advocacy organization for LGBTQ students, has objected to the exemptions and the policies they preserve, calling these schools “dinosaurs of bigotry.” According to Windmeyer, “These policies are harmful to students.”

Transgender Challenges Transcend School Policies

Of course, not all of the challenges faced by transgender and gender non-conforming students can be solved (or created) by new school policies. This piece from Buzzfeed highlights difficulties that range from receiving appropriate housing to explaining preferred pronouns, repeatedly, to classmates and even professors. Transgender students talk about the awkwardness of emailing professors to request the use of a preferred name or of answering shockingly intimate questions posed by near-strangers on campus. While changing policies is an important piece of making all student welcome and comfortable on campus, changing culture is just as crucial to create a more inclusive learning environment.

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, August 15, 2014

The recent furor over campus sexual assault is not, of course, a reaction to a recent problem. How is it that a problem that has plagued schools for years is only now being discussed so often and so publically? Now that the problem is receiving national attention, what conversations are taking place about sexual violence and harassment in higher education? This week we bring you three articles about the expanding discussion that is shedding light on an issue that has been kept in the dark for decades.

Why Is the National Discussion About Campus Sexual Assault Only Taking Off Now?

While the ongoing national discussion surrounding campus sexual assault is a relatively recent phenomenon, the fact of campus sexual assault is not. In this piece from NPR, activists and administrators discuss the recent shift from “the dirty little thing that we don’t talk about” to an open and frank conversation. According to the godmother of Title IX, Bernice Sandler, “It’s like it came out of the closet. The darkness is over.” The article describes the Education Department’s 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter as a game changer that allowed for more open discussion and put pressure on schools to begin the long process of confronting campus sexual assault.

(more…)

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, June 27, 2014

California has a large college-aged population due to its singularly massive system of state schools, and more-progressive-than-average state government. Lately, it is also the source of developments in the fight against campus sexual assault that are of interest, and might even have ramifications, nationwide. So, even if you’re not in California, here are three from recent weeks that have sparked interest across the nation and abroad.

Controversy Rages Over SB 967

Back in February we reported on SB 967, the California Senate Bill that would require colleges and universities to define sexual assault as being any sexual activity that occurred without ongoing affirmative consent from both parties. Since its proposal, SB 967 has been passed by the California State Senate and is currently working its way through the Assembly. While the bill has not yet been signed into law, it continues to generate controversy, with thoughtful arguments coming from both sides of the debate.

State Auditor: California Universities Need More Training

California’s state auditor has released a report on the topic of California universities’ response to sexual assault. Their conclusion? That California can and should do more to prevent and respond to sexual assault. Chief among the report’s recommendations is increased training on how to respond to a sexual assault report for the faculty and staff most likely to “be the first point of contact,” including dorm advisors and athletic coaches. It also called for awareness campaigns on California campuses, and for schools to do a better job keeping victim/survivors informed of the results of conduct proceedings against their attackers.

Napolitano Forms UC Task Force on Sexual Assault

The University of California’s ten campuses are governed by a single 26-member Board of Regents. When UC Berkeley was added to the list of schools currently under Title IX investigation by the Department of Education, the whole system came under scrutiny. University of California President Janet Napolitano has announced the creation of a task force to address campus sexual assault, made up of members of the UC Board of Regents, as well as students, advocates, student conduct officers, administrators, and campus law enforcement. The task force will “develop best practices for all areas of sexual violence prevention, investigation, and response systemwide.” The UC system has also implemented policy changes, including an updated definition of consent and more sexual assault training, intended to prevent sexual violence and support victim/survivors.

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, May 9, 2014

The CampusClarity Weekly Roundup has covered stories about the alleged “Dark Power of Fraternities” as well as their potential benefits. Now, the discussion is turning to what schools should and can do about the perceived problems that arise from the fraternity system as it currently exists on their campuses. Today, we take a look at three measures that have been proposed, enacted, and considered respectively.

Bloomberg Recommends Banning Frats

Bloomberg Business Weekly published this op-ed several months ago, in which they (naturally) examined the question of fraternities from a business perspective. Their conclusion? That fraternities do not contribute to the real business of colleges and universities (teaching) and in fact incur unnecessary and perhaps unacceptable liability, as well as damage to a school’s reputation—or, in business terms, brand.

Amherst Follows Bloomberg’s Advice

In the wake of several controversies regarding their sexual assault policies, and in the midst of a federal investigation of those policies, Amherst College is banning fraternities for the second time. While fraternities were kicked off campus in 1984 (soon after Amherst enrolled its first female students) and have not been officially recognized by the school since then, they have existed as off-campus organizations. Around 10 percent of male Amherst students are members of Theta Delta Chi, Chi Psi, or Delta Kappa Epsilon, living in off-campus fraternity houses and even wearing Greek letters. Now, Amherst is doubling-down on the fraternity ban, making membership in the three off-campus frats grounds for suspension and even expulsion.

Wesleyan Considers Integrating Sisters into Fraternities

Another college facing high-profile lawsuits and sexual assault-related scandals is also considering the future of its Greek system. However, instead of doing away with fraternities, Wesleyan University is contemplating increasing the size of their potential membership—by requiring that they accept female members. The hope is that integration will change fraternity culture for the better. Adding women to a rape-prone fraternity could have the opposite effect and create more risk of sexual assault, according to Christopher Kilmartin, a psychology professor at University of Mary Washington.

When Trinity College required both sororities and fraternities to go co-ed, the dean of students said Trinity’s decision was more about “gender parity” than sexual assault prevention. Regardless of the purpose, the decision raised another risk: students, alumni, and parents argued that the move was tantamount to banning Greek life, since admitting members of the opposite sex led to most of the fraternities and sororities losing their charters from their national organizations.

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When Students Are Also Employees
Posted by On Thursday, April 3, 2014

Early this week, we wrote about “costly” unpaid internships. But lawsuits over unpaid internships are only the first tremors in the shifting landscape of student workers.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) just ruled that football players at Northwestern University who receive scholarships are employees of the school and can unionize. The Northwestern case is one of several that might change the nature of college athletics.

In arguing against the athletes’ bid to unionize, Northwestern cited a 2004 decision by the NLRB that declared graduate assistants at Brown University were not employees and therefore could not unionize. The NLRB concluded in the Brown case that the graduate students’ work assisting faculty members was related to their academic studies and hence they were “primarily students,” not employees.

In distinguishing between the student-athletes and graduate students, the NLRB determined in the Northwestern case that the relationship between the university and the athletes was economic — not educational — based on the fact that the athletes’ football duties are unrelated to their academic studies. Therefore, unlike the graduate students, the athletes were not “primarily students.”

Detailing weeks in which the athletes spent up to 50 to 60 hours on football, the board declared:

Not only is this more hours than many undisputed full-time employees work at their jobs, it is also many more hours than the players spend on their studies…Obviously, the players are also required to spend time studying and completing their homework…But it cannot be said that they are “primarily students” who “spend only a limited number of hours performing their athletic duties.”

Though Northwestern will appeal the decision, it already seems to be affecting how some colleges approach their athletes. Stanford, for instance, sent out a memo to its coaches and staff members on how to respond — or not respond — to the NLRB’s ruling.

Indeed, over at the Title IX Blog, Erin Buzuvis speculates on how the ruling might affect Title IX: “I believe that if the decision results in actual bargained-for benefits for student-athletes of one sex, Title IX would continue to require that such benefits inure equally to student-athletes of the other sex.” Buzuvis continues:

This outcome will surely seem weird to many people…But that’s the consequence of…running a profit seeking business enterprise while receiving federal support and non-profit status. With the latter comes the obligation to comply with civil rights laws like Title IX. And now, with the former, comes the obligation to comply with employment and labor law as well.

As Lloyd Cotsen and Lauren Gaydosh  have pointed out, the Northwestern case provides an opportunity for the higher education community to reflect on the proper balance between the students’ education and their campus work experience:

Regardless of legal definitions all students engaged in campus-related work deserve proper protections and regulations…The NLRB ruling should not scare us but instead encourage careful thinking about how to avoid exploitative student labor and preserve a meaningful campus work experience.

The decision, then, is an opportunity for schools to reflect on how they can help ensure a healthy work-life balance for students, one that fosters a positive campus environment for everyone.

UPDATE (8/27/2015): On appeal the NLRB declined to assert jurisdiction — a decision effectively denying the players the right to unionize under the NLRA. 

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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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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On

For the last several weeks we’ve been covering an ongoing national conversation about the dangers and advantages of Greek organizations on college campuses. This week, three stories illustrate the fact that the problems and dilemmas posed by Greek fraternities are not unique to that particular brand of student groups, or even the United States.

Black Fraternities’ Hazing Problem

Most of that ongoing national conversation has focused on fraternities that are largely white, heterosexual, and, naturally, entirely male. But of course there are sororities, as well as black, Asian, Latin, and various professional fraternities and sororities. These groups often face different problems than those faced by predominantly white fraternities, but that doesn’t mean that they are problem free, or should be ignored in a conversation about the dilemmas posed by student groups. A good example is provided by this story about hazing and black fraternities—since the beginning of 2014, more than 17 members of black fraternities at three different universities have been arrested for hazing.

Student Co-op’s Drug Problem

Nor are problems like substance abuse limited to student groups with the word “fraternity” or “sorority” at the end of their name. Take, for example, the latest bit of drama coming from U.C. Berkeley, this time out of its student cooperative system, the largest in the country. Cloyne Court, which is itself the largest housing co-operative in the country, recently settled a lawsuit brought by the family of resident John Gibson, who has been in a drug-induced coma since he overdosed while living at Cloyne in 2010. Faced with “unaffordably high” insurance rates, Berkeley Student Cooperative president said, “We need to make a direct response to this settlement to show our efforts to prevent further incidences and liability. A change needs to happen now.” Radical changes to address what they see as a culture of substance abuse at Cloyne, include evicting all but one of the co-op’s current residents, and rebranding it as an academic-themed, substance-free residence.

Portugal’s Hazing Problem

The drowning deaths of six Portuguese university students in a single hazing (or praxes) incident, has sparked a national debate in that country about whether or not the tradition of hazing first-year students should be banned. Unlike in this country, hazing in Portugal is not associated with student groups, but is instead a general rite of initiation for incoming students, demonstrating that the inclination towards reckless behavior amongst young people is one that cannot be solved simply by targeting specific, or even all, student groups.

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Weekly Roundup
Posted by On Friday, March 14, 2014

A national fraternity is making big changes, while college presidents don’t think they have to. It’s this week’s Weekly Roundup!

College Presidents Agree Colleges Have a Sexual Assault Problem—Just Not Their College

Much of this blog is dedicated to the epidemic of sexual assaults afflicting college campuses. Much of that coverage has focused on schools’ all-too-often inadequate responses to allegations of sexual assault. Now, a new study suggests that college presidents are aware of at least part of the problem—71% of college presidents agree that institutions of higher education need to improve their response to sexual assault. Which institutions exactly need to clean up their act is unclear however, as 95% of those presidents surveyed asserted that their schools “handle sexual assault allegations appropriately.”

New Lawsuit Challenges the Campus SaVE Act

One possible solution to the issues 95% of college president’s don’t think their institutions have is the Campus SaVE Act, which lays forth at least some guidelines for how schools deal with and attempt to prevent sexual assault. However, a lawsuit filed earlier this month asks a federal court to stop application of Campus SaVE Act provisions in all campus disciplinary proceedings, as well as a pending federal investigation of the University of Virginia’s mishandling of a sexual assault case.  The lawsuit contends that the Campus SaVE Act, which took effect last October, is one step forward, two steps back for victims of sexual assault because it “eliminat[es] the preponderance standard set forth three years ago by the DOE. It also removes the time limit for colleges to resolve sexual assault cases.” They want the court to resolve any conflicts between the Title IX guidelines in the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter and the Campus SaVE Act.

However, U.S. Senator Robert Casey, the senator who originally drafted the Campus SaVE Act, says the Campus SaVE Act was not intended to supersede Title IX requirements in the DCL. Casey told the Rulemaking Committee currently drafting the implementing regulations that, “institutions will still be subject to Title IX obligations … to use the ‘preponderance of evidence’ standard,” as well as the requirement that proceedings be “prompt and equitable.”

SAE Fraternity Ends Hazing Nationwide

In the past few weeks we’ve included stories about the pros and cons of the impact Greek organizations have on campuses and student life. Now, it seems that at least one Greek organization—the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon—has been listening to their critics. Their national office announced this week that, following a number of deaths linked to hazing and substance abuse, they would end hazing at their chapters nationwide.

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