Campuswide memo outlines new sexual assault prevention measures
The AU administration overhauled its sexual assault education program, according to an Aug. 15 memo sent to the campus community by AU Vice President of Student Life Gail Hanson.
University officials plan to step up enforcement and increase transparency while improving student education efforts, according to the memo. AU already announced the appointment of a second sexual assault prevention and victim advocate position this July, The Eagle previously reported.
“This has been an active and productive summer in advancing AU’s work to prevent sexual assault and enhance support for survivors/victims,” Hanson wrote in the memo.
EI Email Investigation
The University officials reached out to alleged victims of sexual assault and harassment during their investigation of EI, but no formal complaints were filed. The emails provided enough evidence to bring one harrassment case forward that has already been closed, Hanson said in the memo.
Public Safety continues to monitor sexual assault cases in cooperation with the Metropolitan Police Department Sexual Assault Unit and the U.S. Attorney General, Hanson stated. Public Safety reviewed the places where the most alcohol and drug violations occurred during the 2013-2014 school year and are planning for more targeted enforcement this year.
In addition, Public Safety hosted a 10-week academy for new officers that emphasized proper sexual assault investigation and law enforcement conduct.
Student Education and Greek Life
Hanson outlined new preventative measures for increased student safety, including a new student education campaign and an anonymous hazing report form.
AU launched a new student education program called STEP UP to raise awareness about preventing sexual assault. Students attending Eagle Summit were encouraged to download an application called U ASK DC that provides legal and health information in event of sexual assault. All incoming undergraduate and law students must complete the online course “Haven – Understanding Sexual Assault (Everfi)” before starting the fall semester, The Eagle previously reported.
More than 119 student leaders have already been trained in the STEP UP program, and all sororities, fraternities and sports teams are registering for training in the fall. Videos, public service announcements and an accompanying social media campaign will also debut Aug. 18, according to the memo.
In addition, staff and faculty members must complete an online training program that reviews Title IX and SAVE Act policies by Jan. 31, 2015, which must be retaken periodically.
Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) also launched a webpage with information about the disciplinary status of all 39 Greek organizations, while The Office of the Dean created a hazing report form? where AU community members can submit cases anonymously.
Fraternity Delta Chi is the only chapter listed with a probation authorized by AU’s Interfraternity Council, according to the FSL Chapter Conduct Status page.
“While this intervention is intended to help address hazing by any group affiliated with the University, we especially appreciate the support of AU’s fraternities and sororities in taking this step,” Hanson said in the email.
Letters sent to incoming freshmen and their parents/guardians also warn of “pick-up” lines intended to lure students to dangerous off-campus parties and list fraternities and sororities that have recently lost chapter recognition.
AU officials also reformed policy to further protect potential victims. “Prohibited conduct” outlined in the AU Student Conduct Code — as well as the University’s Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Policy — now reflects the definitions of sexual violence stated in the Violence Against Women Act.
Revisions to the Student Conduct Code also more clearly lay out students’ rights and protections when filing sexual assault complaints, Hanson said.
Community Partnerships and Oversight
Hanson also noted several new intercollegiate and community partnerships to further improve prevention efforts.
Assistant VIce President of Campus Life and Dean of Students Rob Hradsky will lead a revamped Sexual Assault Working Group (SAWG), which will oversee the roll out of new prevention policies and ensure university efforts match strategies outlined by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. SAWG will host a town hall meeting for the campus community Sept. 17.
Beginning Sept. 30, AU will conduct an internal review of its sororities and fraternities. Vice President of University Relations Will Foran will lead a visiting review team, which includes members of national panhellenic organizations and an assistant dean of students from Cornell University.
Students will also take two climate surveys next spring to assess their experiences with sexual assault, according to the memo.
Eagle Staff Writer Jordan-Marie Smith contributed to this story.