CEW is Awarded NCID Grant

CEW To Lead Statewide Campus Sexual Assault Conference

CEW has been awarded a $20,000 grant by the U-M National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID) to convene a working conference on October 24 and 25, 2012, for Michigan colleges and universities and their community partners. The conference will focus on sexual violence on college campuses in the context of Title IX.

The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights recently issued a policy guidance clarifying Title IX requirements as they relate to student-student sexual harassment, including sexual assault, finding that prevalent myths about “date rape” have led colleges and universities to adopt often-ineffective prevention and resolution strategies. As a result, campuses across the country, including the University of Michigan, are reviewing and revising policies and procedures to ensure compliance. Some of the required changes are controversial and are leading to challenging campus and national conversations.

Sexual Assault on College Campuses

  • 20-25% of college women experience attempted or completed sexual assaults but only 5% report their assaults to police or campus authorities.
  • A 2002 study of male college students found that while 94% of men did not rape, nearly two-thirds of those who did were serial rapists who had an average of six victims each at the point of being interviewed.

Sexual Assault and Students

CEW’s “Campus Sexual Assault Policy and Programs: Promise, Problems and Progress” project is based in the understanding that sexual violence is both endemic and epidemic on college campuses, with women far more frequently affected than men. Freedom from violence is a key determinant of students’ ability to successfully pursue higher education, and Title IX demands gender equity.

According to a year-long investigation of campus sexual assault by the Center for Public Integrity released in February, 2010, “students found ‘responsible’ for alleged sexual assaults on campuses often face little or no punishment, while their victims’ lives are frequently turned upside down. Many times, victims drop out of school, while students found culpable go on to graduate.”

Details of the Project

The CEW project has both statewide and institutional goals:

  • To engage institutions of higher education across Michigan in conversations about best practices in gender violence prevention and intervention
  • To increase campuses’ access to state information about training, advocacy and legislative action and to strengthen capacity for col- lective action toward policy change
  • To facilitate and influence statewide and national conversations about the effects of the Title IX policy guidance
  • To sustain and deepen the conversation that will be taking place in the coming year about U-M policies and procedures for ad- dressing sexual assault, building on an extensive set of discussions designed to ensure broad community participation
  • To bring research-based information to bear on the policy discus- sion about long-term changes to the institution’s procedures for addressing sexual misconduct

The conference will begin with a half-day working session on lessons learned from Title IX implementation involving teams from six Michigan campuses. The next day will be an open-access conference to which we will invite Michigan colleges and universities, community-based sexual assault service providers, and members of the U-M community. It will feature a series of presentations on campus sexual assault, looking at issues like male aggression, supports and barriers to survivor disclosure, evaluation and best practices.

Following the conference, we will create and disseminate proceedings and recommendations regarding institutional policies and practices and statewide policies and possible coordinated efforts to address this issue.

A Joint Effort

Our collaborators on this project, in addition to NCID, include multiple U-M units: Abuse Hurts, the U-M Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, Office of Student Conflict Resolution, Office of Institutional Equity, Department of Public Safety, and School of Social Work faculty members Rich Tolman, Dan Saunders and Mieko Yoshihama; Associate VP for Human Resources Laurita Thomas, General Counsel Suellyn Scarnecchia, VP for Student Affairs Royster Harper and Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones have endorsed this project. Community collaborators include the Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and the Domestic Violence Prevention and Treatment Board of the Michigan Department of Human Services.

Working together, we anticipate using our collective experience and leading research to shape policy at U-M, at campuses across Michigan, and nationally.