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August 15, 2014, Message from the VP of Campus Life

This is the final of three summer updates to inform the campus community about efforts to address the alleged misconduct associated with the underground group known as “EI” and to enhance AU’s measures to prevent sexual violence and support victims/survivors. This message both summarizes what has been achieved since May, and reports what has occurred since the July 15 update. Throughout this message, links are provided to more detail about the measures described.

“EI” E-mail Chain

  • Students named in the EI e-mail chain that may have been the target or victim of abuse were contacted and offered assistance.
  • No one filed complaints related to actions described in the e-mails.
  • Public Safety updated AU’s Clery crime log to document the alleged EI related activity.
  • There was sufficient evidence in the e-mails to bring one harassment case; it has been concluded.

Incidents of alleged sexual assault and alleged conspiracy to commit sexual assault continue to be under review by Public Safety in cooperation with the MPD Sexual Assault Unit and the U.S. Attorney.

Off Campus Alcohol and Drug Use

  • Public Safety analyzed 2013-2014 student conduct cases to identify off campus locations where alcohol/drug violations occurred and target these locations for law enforcement.

Public Safety is meeting with MPD and the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) to provide its findings with regard to off campus alcohol/drug violations and coordinate enforcement and education efforts for the coming academic year.

Other Measures to Address Student Conduct

Letter to All New Undergraduates about Welcome Weeks & Off Campus Parties. On August 12, the dean of students sent a letter to all new undergraduates welcoming them to AU and cautioning them about off campus parties and the “pick-up lines” associated with them. 

Letter to Parents and Guardians about Unrecognized Groups. Warnings about the risks of associating with unrecognized groups are posted on the Fraternity & Sorority Life (FSL) web site and included in the orientation for students participating in FSL membership recruitment. The warnings name EI and any other group that has recently lost recognition. Student Activities also sends a letter to parents and guardians of current students to convey the same information.

Chapter Conduct Status Web Page. Fraternity & Sorority Life has launched a web page with information about the active and disciplinary status of all 39 fraternity and sorority chapters at AU. The information includes both a chapter’s status with AU and with its national or international organization.

Electronic Hazing Report Form. The Office of the Dean of Students has launched an electronic form to facilitate hazing reports by members of the AU community. Reports may be submitted anonymously. 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.

Community and Inter-campus Collaboration

  • Campus Life staff participated in the June 24 Roundtable to promote campus-community partnerships in preventing sexual assault and supporting victims/survivors, sponsored by the DC Office of Victim Services and Men Can Stop Rape.
  • AU’s sexual assault prevention coordinator is representing AU at the new DC College Consortium, formed by the DC Office of Victim Services.

AU has joined with other members of the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence (DCCADV) Campus Consortium to take advantage of a Department of Justice grant to support the development and sharing of best practices and model policies and programs directed at compliance with the federal requirements for the Campus SAVE Act. As part of this commitment, AU will host one of DCCADV’s organized trainings, encourage AU faculty and staff to attend, and designate staff to participate in quarterly meetings that will facilitate the exchange of information.

Education & Training

  • AU launched a new bystander intervention program during the 2014 Eagle Summit: STEP UP – Be more than a bystander. More than 1,200 entering first year students and their families were introduced to bystander intervention principles this summer.
  • Eagle Summit participants were assisted in downloading the app for U ASK DC – a direct way to access information needed most in the event of a sexual assault on one of DC’s nine college campuses.
  • New undergraduates and all graduate and law students were directed to complete the online course, Haven – Understanding Sexual Assault (Everfi) prior to arriving on campus in the fall.
  • Public Safety hosted a 10-week Academy for new public safety officers with a module that placed greater emphasis on sexual assault investigations and attention to the primary responsibilities of law enforcement in sexual assault cases.

Welcome Week’s Freshman Fundamentals will include the introduction to STEP UP – Be more than a bystander for new undergraduates who did not attend Eagle Summit. Mandatory floor meetings in the residence halls will include the opportunity to download the U ASK DC app for resident students who have not already done so. Also, during Welcome Week and the first week of classes, the Wellness Center will prominently and actively disseminate health and safety information.

The bystander awareness and training video will debut the week of August 18 on the STEP UP web site, in the introductions to STEP UP training sessions, and at www.Facebook.com/StepUpAU.

Special request and open sign-up bystander intervention training will be available throughout the year. One hundred nineteen (119) members of the resident staff and student leaders are being trained now – this includes resident assistants, program associates, the executive board of the Residence Hall Association and leaders of the Leadership Academy. All 39 groups under Fraternity and Sorority Life are registering for mandatory training at the beginning of September – about 1,970 students. All 16 intercollegiate athletic teams will participate in mandatory training by team – about 250 athletes. PEERS (Peer Educators for the Elimination of Relationship & Sexual Violence) will be ready to respond to training requests beginning September 29. Student Activities is pursuing training commitments from Student Government leaders and the leaders of other recognized student organizations.

We have created STEP UP bystander intervention public service announcements (PSAs). The PSAs will run on the Four Winds electronic message boards throughout campus and may be viewed on the STEP UP web site.

Social Media Campaign. You can follow STEP Up – Be more than a bystander on Facebook to see how members of the AU community are stepping up: www.Facebook.com/StepUpAU.

Faculty and staff training on Title IX and the Campus SAVE Act. All full and part time faculty and staff members (about 3,000 employees) are being provided access to an online training module on Title IX and Campus Save. Completion of the training is required by January 31, 2015. The training will be housed in AsuccessfulU. Refresher training will be required on a periodic basis, and the course will be required for all new faculty and staff going forward.

Victim Support

  • In July, the university announced that it will hire a second sexual assault prevention coordinator and victim advocate in the Wellness Center.

Recruitment is underway. The position is posted on the AU Careers site; the search committee chair is Counseling Center clinician Charrise Hipol. Students will be engaged in the campus interviews. The successful candidate will join the Wellness Center staff as early in the fall semester as possible.

Policy Development

  • In June, revisions were approved to the Student Conduct Code aligning definitions of “prohibited conduct” with the sexual violence terms set forth in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA).

Further revisions to the Student Conduct Code have been implemented to make it easier for victims/survivors to see their responsibilities and rights, as guaranteed under federal regulations. Protections afforded to complainants/complaining witnesses in Title IX cases are both presented in italics in the body of the Code and summarized in a new section "B," under II. Responsibilities and Rights.

Also, Code Section VIII. Student Groups and Organizations, has been amended to make clear the conditions under which the university may charge and sanction students collectively for misconduct. The section has been retitled “VIII. Recognized Student Organizations and Student Groups with Provisional Recognition” to accurately characterize the revised content. The revised Student Conduct Code was effective August 11, 2014.

The university’s revised Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Policy became effective on August 1, 2014. It incorporates the same terms and definitions for dating violence, domestic violence and stalking that were added to the Student Conduct Code. It also lists AU’s confidential resources for victims/survivors.

Campus Climate Assessment

  • Campus Life will administer the National College Health Assessment [includes sections on violence, abusive relationships and personal safety and on sexual behavior] to all undergraduates and law students in April, 2015.
  • Campus Life will facilitate Prof. Jane Palmer’s biennial survey of sexual violence, dating violence and bystander intervention in March, 2015.
  • An External Review of Fraternity & Sorority Life at AU is scheduled in September. The internal team guiding the site visit will be led by Student Activities Director Dominic Greene. The visiting reviewers will meet with a wide range of campus constituents.

The visiting team for the External Review of Fraternity & Sorority Life has been named. Members are (Team Leader) Will Foran, Vice President of University Relations, North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC); Kara Miller, Assistant Dean of Students at Cornell University & Board Member of Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors; Louise Kier Zirretta, Former National President of Phi Sigma Sigma & Former National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) Chair; Gloria Shannon, National Pan-Hellenic (NPHC) National Secretary and member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. The site visit dates have been changed to September 30-October 1, 2014, to accommodate team members.

On July 30, the Bipartisan Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA) was introduced in Congress. Among its provisions, the Act would mandate a new, annual survey of students at every university in the U.S. to collect data on their experiences with sexual violence. The survey would be standardized and anonymous, and results would be published online. AU is monitoring the progress of this legislation and will be prepared to comply with resulting survey protocols and requirements.

Ongoing Work
This has been an active and productive summer in advancing AU’s work to prevent sexual assault and enhance support for survivors/victims. We appreciate all who have contributed to this work and are committed to extending it into the future.

Assistant VP of Campus Life and Dean of Students Rob Hradsky will convene the reconstituted Sexual Assault Working Group (SAWG) in September. The Group will be charged with (1) ensuring continuity in the efforts launched this summer and (2) continuing to shape AU’s intervention strategies consistent with the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. The committee’s work will be transparent, as will the data we gather on students’ experiences with sexual violence and on the effectiveness of the measures we implement. Recommendations formulated by Student Government over the summer will be referred to SAWG for its consideration. When the academic year is underway, you may review timely information on the SAWG’s activities on the Dean of Students web site.

Finally, the campus community is invited to a Town Hall on Sexual Assault Prevention, hosted by SAWG on Wednesday, September 17, 8 – 9:30 pm in the Letts Hall Formal Lounge.

Campus Participation
Thank you to the many members of the AU community who contributed to this important work to prevent sexual violence at AU and support victims/survivors. We hope all students, faculty and staff will continue to support these efforts throughout the year.