In 2017, the University of Iowa implemented several new programs that were the first or only ones of their kind in American universities, including the UI-CERB education program for students and Flip the Script, a sexual assault resistance course. As our national conversation on these topics evolves and as federal guidelines and requirements change, we continue to draw strength from the perspectives offered through multidisciplinary collaboration with campus and community partners through the Anti-Violence Coalition.
New response coordinator at OSMRC
Alyssa Pomponio joined OSMRC as a response coordinator in September 2017. Alyssa’s previous experience includes providing legal aid to sexual assault survivors through Sexual Violence Legal Services at the YWCA in Seattle, WA, and working as a defense attorney for Thurston County Public Defense in Olympia, WA.
In addition to supporting individuals engaged in the university’s response process, Alyssa participates in the Johnson County Human Trafficking Coalition.
New Title IX Guidance from the Department of Education
The Department of Education Office on Civil Rights published new temporary guidance on Title IX compliance in 2017. This included rescinding the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter and the 2014 Q&As. OSMRC met with campus partners involved in the Title IX response process, representatives from confidential offices, and the Office of the President to review the new guidance and discuss its implications. It was determined that no changes would be made to UI policies based on the temporary guidance.
The Department of Education is engaged in a rule-making process to determine new requirements for university Title IX responses. The Anti-Violence Coalition will continue to stay informed and share updates about the rule-making process as it moves forward.
The University of Iowa Anti-Violence Coalition (AVC) is a multidisciplinary team focused on ensuring a coordinated community response to prevention and intervention of sexual misconduct, dating/domestic violence, and stalking.
37 departments were represented on the Anti-Violence Coalition in 2017. Departments include:
- Center for Diversity and Enrichment
- Center for Student Involvement and Leadership
- College of Medicine
- Council on the Status of Women
- Department of Public Safety
- Domestic Violence Intervention Program
- ESL Programs
- Fraternity and Sorority Life
- Graduate and Professional Student Government
- Harm Reduction and Strategic Initiatives
- International Students and Scholars Services
- Iowa City Police Department
- Johnson County Attorney's Office
- Johnson County Public Health
- Monsoon Asians and Pacific Islanders in Solidarity
- Nisaa African Family Services
- Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity
- Office of Strategic Communication
- Office of the Dean of Students
- Office of the Provost
- Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator
- Office of the Vice President of Student Life
- President’s Student Advisory Committee on Sexual Misconduct
- Residence Education
- SANE/SART Program
- School of Social Work
- Student Disability Services
- Student Health and Wellness
- Threat Assessment Team
- Transformative Healing
- UI Employee Assistance Program
- UI REACH
- University Counseling Service
- University of Iowa Student Governmen
- Women’s Resource and Action Center (WRAC)
AVC Subcommittees in 2017 included:
- Callisto Review Subcommittee
- Campus Education Subcommittee
- Men and Masculinities Task Force
- Speak Out Iowa 2017 Survey Subcommittee
Flip the Script: A new sexual assault resistance course
In fall 2017, the University of Iowa offered a new one-credit sexual assault resistance course called Flip the Script that aims to challenge the notion that there is little women can do to protect themselves from sexual assault.
Flip the Script is open to all students who identify as women, regardless of sexual orientation and inclusive of trans women. The class is based on the Enhanced Assess Acknowledge Act (EAAA) curriculum, developed by Dr. Charlene Senn at the University of Windsor. In a randomized controlled trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine, women who completed the EAAA program were 46% less likely to experience a completed sexual assault and 63% less likely to experience an attempted sexual assault.
Students learn to recognize characteristics in the environment and in other people that increase the likelihood of sexual assault, explore personal beliefs which create emotional barriers to resistance, learn verbal and physical strategies that effectively deter perpetrators, and clarify their relationship preferences and desires in order to recognize and resist partners who don’t respect those choices. The course stresses it is NEVER a victim’s fault if they are sexually assaulted and reminds participants that there is no risk for sexual violence without the presence of a perpetrator.
The majority of prevention programming at the University of Iowa focuses on primary prevention, which aims to stop gender-based violence before it occurs by changing the cultural norms that allow violence to persist. While primary prevention continues to be the priori-ty, Flip the Script provides an additional education option for students interested in learning resistance strategies.
Feedback from course participants has been positive. Students in the fall 2017 course showed a 12% increase in perceived risk of acquaintance rape. One student reflected on learning about risk of acquaintance rape, “A lot of the myths that we hear about rape being attempted by a stranger are not true; it is most likely to happen to you by someone you know.” Students’ self-efficacy for self-defense increased by 35%, and their knowledge of specific effective forceful verbal and physical resistance strategies they could use against an acquaintance increased by 26%. “I am capable of a lot more than I think I am,” reported one student. “I want all students to have this opportunity. If I don’t use these skills, I feel that I could use them to help my friends.”
Plans are in place to collaborate with Dr. Senn to create a version of Flip the Script for non-binary students. Students can register for fall sessions through MyUI.
OSMRC roundtable series
OSMRC held a series of student roundtable events in 2017, cosponsored by the Student Advisory Committee on Sexual Misconduct and the UI Student Government. Three events were held in fall 2017 with the goals of increasing understanding about campus projects and processes and improving transparency by providing the opportunity for questions and dialogue. The roundtable topics included Flip the Script, the Speak Out Iowa survey, and offender accountability and due process.
Men and masculinities task force
Mobilizing men and boys as allies in preventing gender-based violence is an evidence-based strategy endorsed by the CDC and prioritized in the 2016-2018 Anti-Violence Plan. The Men and Masculinities task force began meeting in 2017 to bring together partners from across the university engaged in working with men. Representatives from RVAP, WRAC, the Department of Public Safety, University Counseling Services, Athletics, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Multicultural Programs, the Diversity Resources Center, and OSMRC began meeting to learn about others’ work, align messaging, share resources, and provide mutual support towards the shared goal of engaging men on campus.
Ongoing collaboration with culturally-specific advocacy organizations
OSMRC continued to expand collaboration with culturally-specific organizations in 2017. With translation support from Nisaa African Family Services and funding from the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, we published an Arabic translation of the UI Resource and Referral Guide. Copies of the Arabic and Mandarin translations were distributed to campus partners, including International Students and Scholars Services and ESL Programs.
OSMRC and Monsoon Asians and Pacific Islanders in Solidarity co-presented a new orientation program for incoming international students. The 30-minute program focused on raising awareness about resources on campus and in the community where students could get confidential help, ask for accommodations, make a report, or get assistance from law enforcement.
Advocates from Monsoon and Nisaa also held office hours on cam-pus in 2017, increasing access for students seeking multilingual and culturally specific advocacy.
Educational intervention for students
The UI-CERB (Cognitive, Emotion Regulation, and Behavioral skills) program was implemented in 2017 for students found responsible for sexual misconduct, dating/domestic violence, or stalking.
CERB uses mindfulness techniques to help students develop cognitive, emotion regulation, and behavioral skills. Students meet weekly with a facilitator for 15-16 weeks. The weekly sessions include activities in which students increase awareness of their internal thoughts and feelings and learn to make choices about their behavior based on their values. “We help students differentiate between mental experiences and behaviors so they can explore possibilities for change,” says UI-CERB facilitator Andy Winkelmann. “The aim is not to make students feel better, but to help them get better at feeling.”
In 2014, then Vice President for Student Life Tom Rocklin charged a committee to outline evidence-based recommendations for sanctions for students found responsible for sexual misconduct, dating/domestic violence, or stalking but not separated from the university. The committee recommended that ACTV, a group intervention successful in reducing violent incidents and recidivism with adults in the criminal justice system, be adapted to an individual education program to target sexual misconduct among college students. A Department of Justice grant fund-ed the modification of the ACTV curriculum into UI-CERB. In 2017, under the Anti-Violence Plan, four facilitators were trained in the UI-CERB curriculum and began implementing the program with students.
While other programs developed for working with offenders focus on changing thoughts and feelings, UI-CERB builds on the principle from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) that thoughts and feelings cannot be changed. “In CERB sessions, we help students learn how to make room for uncomfortable thoughts and feelings by engaging in willingness and acceptance activities,” says Winkelmann. “We strive to help clients achieve some psychological flexibility.” CERB facilitators work with students to change behaviors so they align with the student’s values, achieving change by focusing on what the student can control.
Eight students were enrolled in the program in 2017, and plans are in place to train additional facilitators. Program assessment was implemented to ensure that program goals were met. “CERB represents a new development in our approach to creating a safe and respectful campus,” says Monique DiCarlo, the University of Iowa Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator. “We’re excited about future possibilities for the program.”