In 2014, Colorado State University and over 50 other schools across the U.S. were placed under review for possible violations of federal law for how they handled sexual violence and harassment complaints.
The review process is continuing almost a year later, and while the initial reviewwas not “initiated from any incident” according to Executive Director of Public Affairs Mike Hooker, CSU has been working towards improving how they handle these types of complaints.
These violations fall under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 “prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance,” according to a release on the U.S. Department of Education website.
“Through the proactive compliance review process, the Office of Civil Rights has been working on the way CSU handles misconduct, the resources provided, the way we get information out and policies and procedures that are in student and employee hand books,” Hooker said.
According to Hooker, the primary offices involved with Title IX on campus are the Office of Support and Safety Assessment, the Equal Opportunity Office, CSU Police Department, the Women and Gender Advocacy Center, which includes the Victim Assistance Team, CSU Health Network counseling services, and the Office of Case Management and Referral Coordination.
“The overall review involves addressing the ways that complaints are handled on campus, the staff and resources available and the way information is shared about prevention,” Hooker said. “We are looking forward to getting the feedback from this review and welcome any opportunities to improve. We are glad to be participating because it gives the chance to look at ourselves and consider if we are doing things the best we can and if we can do better.”
Another big part of addressing and handling sexual assault on campus is the Reframe campaign intended to help the CSU community reframe the conversation about interpersonal violence in a way that teaches consent, skills for intervening and how to respond to problematic language and behaviors.
“Title IX has elevated the conversation about sexual assault,” Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Former Director for Women and Gender Advocacy Center Kathy Sisneros said. “The Women and Gender Advocacy Center functions as a direct source for victims of primary and secondary violence and prevention work outside of the office. Much of what we do is educate to reframe. People want to know how the engage with students about interpersonal violence and to interrupt it if need be.”
According to Sisneros, Reframe works to inform people and make sure students know how important and relevant the conversation around sexual assault and gender violence is. At CSU, 60 percent of incoming students have already experience primary or secondary interpersonal violence.
“This is a learning community and the right to feel safe is fundamental for the life and integrity of campus,” Hooker said. “The review is an opportunity to improve on this serious issue. CSU has a long standing commitment that people are treated with dignity and respect.”
Collegian reporter Ashley Haberman can be reached at email@example.com.