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American University Honored for Leadership in Sexual Assault Prevention Education

By Kelly Alexander

a blue ribbon next to the word

American University has been awarded the Prevention Excellence Award by EVERFI, Inc., the nation’s leading education technology innovators. AU is among five universities in the U.S. to receive this high designation for its commitment to adopting the highest standards in sexual assault prevention education. AU’s campus leadership and community is dedicating a day to focusing on the work of sexual assault prevention education. The AU Community will gather on Monday, September 25—joined by President Sylvia Burwell—to celebrate the award, review the award-winning strategies, and discuss future initiatives that will help the university to remain an example of excellence in this area of education. The recognition ceremony will highlight some of the achievements and results of AU’s prevention efforts and will be followed by an invitation-only meeting of the AU Sexual Assault Working Group (SAWG). The event is from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. in Constitution Hall on East Campus (Rooms 1-3) with a reception immediately following the presentations.

Colleges and universities that have joined the Campus Prevention Network are eligible for consideration to receive the award through completing the Sexual Assault Diagnostic Inventory (SADI)—a comprehensive research-based assessment of a school’s prevention programs and practices grounded in a decade of peer-reviewed literature on best practices in prevention. American University joined the Campus Prevention Network in 2015. Awardees were selected based on their SADI scores, Campus Prevention Network staff interviews with campus professionals and a careful review of each institution’s effort.

“The commitment of the campus leadership, staff and students to the work of sexual assault prevention education is unwavering and energizing,’ said Assistant Vice President of Campus Life and Dean of Students Rob Hradsky. “We are honored to receive this recognition and remain focused on this important work,” continued Hradsky who also chairs SAWG.

The Sexual Assault Working Group

The Sexual Assault Working Group (SAWG) is charged with reviewing the university’s efforts on issues of interpersonal and sexual violence, including sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, and stalking. SAWG is comprised of a Steering Committee of 40 faculty, staff and students, and five subcommittees with both Steering Committee members and members of the broader AU community. The subcommittees include: student advocacy and support, campus awareness and education, university policies and procedures, outreach and communications, and assessment. SAWG met weekly in 2016-17 and accomplished the following:

  • Conducted a comprehensive review of the current investigative and adjudication processes involving Title IX complaints with a focus on equity, fairness, and impact on students as it relates to trauma and distress.
  • Developed, reviewed and solicited critical feedback on a “Single Investigator” concept model; developed adjudication flowchart and proposed revisions to the Student Conduct Code.
  • Developed a proposal for a Respondent Support Program to ensure equitable treatment in the resolution of Title IX complaints.
  • Revamped and launched assessments for Empower AU and Step Up (including a pre-test, post-test and six-week follow-up survey).
  • Analyzed and disseminated data from Empower AU and Step Up assessments, and created an Empower AU infographic.
  • Held two town hall-style meetings: Fall 2016 Town Hall on data from the 2015 Palmer survey and Empower AU;
  • Spring 2017 “Title IX and Tacos” event to introduce proposed investigative model and to solicit feedback on campus prevention efforts.
  • Revised Palmer survey instrument; streamlined and launched spring 2017 administration.
  • Created “Coffee Talk” series to provide informal mechanism for students to connect with administrators around Title IX policies, procedures and supports.
  • Developed and delivered targeted training for the ROTC population in Washington, DC.
  • Researched Restorative Justice approaches to Title IX; attended conference on best practices in Restorative Justice.
  • Introduced the SAWG Awards to recognize the significant commitments of AU community members in preventing and responding to issues of interpersonal and sexual violence.
  • Relaunched the It’s On Us campaign including awareness posters and campaign video.
  • Developed the OCHO campaign to highlight confidential resources on campus.

    “With so much recent emphasis on the shortcomings in campus prevention and response efforts, EVERFI aims to shift the narrative by highlighting campuses doing exemplary work,” said Rob Buelow, EVERFI Vice President of Prevention Education. “The Prevention Excellence Awards give us the opportunity to share and celebrate the tremendous commitment these institutions are making and continue to make in comprehensive, data-driven, evidence-based, and researched informed prevention efforts to build communities that encourage students to thrive.”

    Of the eighty-nine colleges and universities that have completed the SADI, fewer than ten percent earned the distinction of being a Prevention Excellence Award honoree. Buelow further noted, “The Prevention Excellence Awards are particularly special because we do not ask schools to compete against each other, but rather to commit to doing the best work possible in the core areas of institutionalization, critical processes and policies, and programming, and to measure themselves against the highest standards in the field.”

    The Campus Prevention Network and EVERFI

    The Campus Prevention Network, is a nationwide initiative of over 1,700 institutions dedicated to creating safer, healthier campus communities. Any college or university may join CPN free of charge by agreeing to take a pledge to adopt the highest standards of prevention related to critical health and safety challenges, including sexual assault and alcohol abuse, and to assess the progress and impact of their efforts. Through the Campus Prevention Network, colleges and universities will have access to prevention best practices, regulatory compliance expertise, ongoing professional development, and groundbreaking prevention research. Campuses can join the network and take the pledge. EVERFI, Inc. is the education technology innovator that empowers K-12, higher education, and adult learners with the skills needed to be successful in life. The company teams with major corporations and foundations to provide the programs at no cost to K-12 schools. Some of America’s leading CEOs and venture capital firms are EVERFI investors including Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, Twitter founder Evan Williams, and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt. Learn more at everfi.com.