While our campus is not new to sexual misconduct prevention, our work in 2016 demonstrates substantial new commitments to creating a safer campus community. Those commitments are reflected in the Anti-Violence Plan for Sexual Misconduct, Dating Violence, and Stalking. An essential element of tackling sexual misconduct requires surveying students. Indeed, the efforts of Dr. Carolyn Hartley and her colleagues to implement the Speak Out Iowa survey on sexual misconduct provided important data that informed our goals and strategies for the Anti-Violence Plan. Student leadership and input continued to shape the plan’s priorities and the outcomes achieved in 2016.
Our 2016 case data provides a sobering reminder that over 400 people were reported to have been impacted by sexual misconduct, dating/domestic violence, or stalking. Sexual misconduct and the devastating impact it has on people’s academic, work, and personal lives is not theoretical—it’s real and happening every day to our campus community members. While our case data describe the scope of work in which the office staff engaged, the data do not provide a clear picture about all the other offices who played a central role in our ability to respond to people harmed and prevent reoccurrence. The confidential victim advocates from RVAP, DVIP, Monsoon United Asian Women of Iowa, Nisaa, and Transformative Healing are often by the side of the person coming forward to make a complaint or request an academic accommodation. In many of those cases, the advocates have spent hours exploring with a survivor their options and ideas for coping with the potential impact of reporting an incident. We were in daily contact with the UI Department of Public Safety, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, and the Office of the Dean of Students in our shared efforts to coordinate investigations, ensure a fair process, and hold offenders accountable.
Ten years after our first campus grant from the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), we not only have compulsory education for all incoming students but we have envisioned a comprehensive plan that goes beyond a “one and done” approach to prevention. The landscape is very different from what it was 10 years ago. A decade ago, there was no program or mechanism to educate all students; staff and faculty were not required to complete sexual harassment prevention training; there was no student sexual misconduct policy; there was no coalition to facilitate multi-disciplinary collaboration on projects; and the training provided to law enforcement and campus judicial administrators was sporadic, at best. Much has changed since the first OVW grant was awarded to the university.
Last spring, I was reminded by outgoing Vice President Tom Rocklin that it would be easy to look at how far we have come and decide to rest, especially as the threat of federal oversight eases, but he wisely reminded me that our students care less about how much has changed and more about our vision going forward. Therefore, it is with our students and for our students that we are committed to our mission of ending sexual misconduct, dating violence, and stalking.
Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator
Title IX Coordinator