By Mark S. Kenna
Sept. 2, 2013. Appalachian State University’s Interpersonal Violence Task Force released its final report last week, highlighting recommendations for ASU’s campus community.
The final report displays the work of the Task Force that Chancellor Kenneth Peacock assembled in June 2012. The task force analyzed data on interpersonal violence at ASU and nationally in order to create short- and long-term policies and practices to implement for prevention of sex-based harassment.
The Task Force also served to satisfy a resolution agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights from April of last year. Of which regarded a complaint filed by a female ASU student in reaction to how the university handled her sexual assault complaint in 2011 and 2012.
The 17-page report broke down the Task Force into specific sub-committees: survey, policy, programming, support and outreach. Each sub-committee reflected upon the university’s current policies, practices and procedures and “conducted research on best practices utilized by institutions of higher education to address interpersonal violence.”
As a part of data analyzed, the Task Force went over the data collected from the Campus Climate Survey conducted from Jan. 31 to Feb. 20 of this year. The survey yielded 4,296 respondents or 23.47 percent of the student body.
One of the main areas of questioning in the survey pertained to Title IX.
A large portion of the respondents, 56.3 percent, indicated that they’re not familiar with Title IX or what rights it protects. As a part of the same line of survey questions only 5.1 percent of respondents knew who the Title IX Coordinator is and how to contact them.
At the end of the report are eight different recommendations that the Task Force found in their research.
The recommendations are as follows:
1. Create at least two new positions to address the programming, support and outreach needs of students, faculty and staff.
a. Prevention (1) – training and primary prevention programming
b. Direct Service (1) – direct service for support and response
c. Additional staff depending on availability of funding, including U.S. Departmentof Justice grant
2. Adopt a university policy that requires mandatory harassment and discrimination training, including policies and protocols on interpersonal violence, for all students, faculty and staff.
3. Develop a one-page sexual assault flow chart for campus distribution and a checklist for individuals providing direct services to complainants and respondents.
4. Provide specialized sexual assault training for at least one campus police officer.
5. Continue annual review and revision of the Code of Student Conduct and the Sexual Misconduct Addendum.
6. Ensure that comparable information, support and resources are provided to the complainant and the respondent in student conduct cases. Professional staff should receive specialized training and be offered support and resources to work with complainants and/or respondents in cases involving interpersonal violence.
7. Conduct a campus climate survey every two years (required by OCR).
8. Continue the work of the task force by appointing a working council to provide oversight and assistance with implementation of the recommendations. Appoint a sub-committee of the working council to assist with ongoing evaluation of campus programming,including new student orientation, and to ensure consistent, effective messaging.