University continues work to strengthen sexual misconduct education, training, policy

· 4 min read

University continues work to strengthen sexual misconduct education, training, policy

Courtesy of University Communication

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has continued to make steady progress in its work to improve education, training and policy that addresses sexual misconduct.

Guided primarily by a Campuswide Collaborative on Sexual Misconduct report, the university is addressing 35 recommendations to help advance sexual misconduct-related policies and procedures.

Along with multiple policies and procedures implemented via the report, critical points met to date by the university include:

  • Making the collaborative a permanent group, renaming it the Chancellor’s Commission for the Prevention of Sexual Misconduct;

  • Requiring and refining annual sexual misconduct training for all incoming students, new faculty and staff, University Police and University Health Center employees;

  • Promoting broadly the definition of affirmative consent;

  • Offering focused training for relevant Title IX employees on trauma informed care and how to use restorative practices for informal resolutions

  • Updated the Institutional Equity and Compliance website with clear guidelines for handling accusations of misconduct; and

  • Increasing promotion of and visibility of confidential resources on campus as well as those in the community.

The university is also moving forward with other related work, including a needs assessment; developing a campus climate survey regarding sexual misconduct; and developing an annual Title IX report.

In October, a peer education program for undergraduate students will launch. It will feature more than 130 workshops planned for university residence halls, fraternities, sororities and other locations.

The university is also finalizing the hires of new staff for the Center for Advocacy, Response and Education, a support service for those who have experienced sexual assault and/or relationship violence. The center was also recently moved to a larger, newly-renovated space within Neihardt Center.

The space within Neihardt Center offers expanded capabilities for the CARE team. It includes six private individual offices, a large gathering space/lounge, and onsite access to other spaces, including a classroom for working with large student groups.

The university is also among a number of higher education institutions participating in a national, evidence-based test program — the Sexual Assault Prevention and Community Equity, or SPACE, toolkit. The project, which is led by Columbia and Princeton universities, takes a public health approach to prevent sexual misconduct on campuses.

And, university leaders continue to support and encourage students, faculty and staff to actively seek out grants that would further sexual misconduct prevention and education efforts.

Video: "Use Your Voice"

Launched by Chancellor Ronnie Green in September 2019, the Campuswide Collaborative was charged with recommending efforts to improve education training and policy development to address sexual misconduct. In collaboration with Student Affairs, Title IX staff and Academic Affairs, it was led by Susan Swearer, professor of educational psychology and a licensed psychologist.

Modeled after similar initiatives at other Big Ten institutions, the collaborative featured representation by students, faculty, staff and the greater Lincoln community. It included working groups in three key areas: prevention and education; intervention; and policy, procedures and practices. Each working group was co-led by faculty and staff with related expertise.

In pursuit of its charge, the collaborative followed best practices as outlined by the National Association of Student Personal Administrators’ “Culture of Respect: CORE Blueprint.” The publication is a strategic roadmap designed to address sexual violence on university campuses.

The complete, 43-page report by the Campuswide Collaborative is available for review here. A summary of the recommendations and progress made by the university on each is available for review here.

Learn more about the collaborative’s work, including its continued leadership after being named a chancellor’s commission.

The commission is part of the university’s deep history of supporting anti-violence work on campus. Those efforts include establishing the Women’s Center in 1971. Along with offering supports to students, the center has led or sponsored a variety of events, including Week Without Violence, Take Back the Night and Not On My Campus.

In 1998, PREVENT, a recognized student organization, was launched with an initial focus on sexual assault and relationship violence prevention. Its work expanded to include advocacy.

More recently, the university created the Center for Advocacy, Response and Education to address sexual and gender-based misconduct.

Additional recent steps include developing the Use Your Voice initiative, an awareness campaign to promote campus resources, reporting options and a supportive climate; and building a dedicated sexual misconduct website.

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