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Letter to the editor: Title IX coordinator addresses concerns of sexual violence in dorms

Feminist+Front+protests+down+Belden+and+Sheffield+avenues.+%28Erin+Yarnall+%2F+The+DePaulia%29
Feminist Front protests down Belden and Sheffield avenues. (Erin Yarnall / The DePaulia)

Feminist Front protests down Belden and Sheffield avenues. (Erin Yarnall / The DePaulia)

Feminist Front protests down Belden and Sheffield avenues. (Erin Yarnall / The DePaulia)

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I read the companion articles addressing sexual assault in last week’s DePaulia with great interest (“Frats, other groups say sexual assault prevention is on ‘all of us;’” and “Take Back the Night Rally calls for safe housing and end to rape culture”).  Both articles speak to the need to provide a safe campus community and emphasize education and prevention efforts to address this serious issue.

The call for a safe and responsive campus community, including safe housing, is feedback my university partners and I take seriously.

Please understand that I cannot discuss the specifics of any individual case.  The Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) requires us to protect the privacy of student records, mandating the details of incidents as well as the particulars of how they are handled to remain confidential.  That also means the university is prohibited by federal law from implementing the specific proposal offered by Feminist Front — namely, to disclose to potential roommates the nature and extent of disciplinary charges levied against any member of the university community.

I understand that this legal requirement may provide an unsatisfactory response to Feminist Front.  This is why the Dean of Students and I have offered to meet with them to further discuss this issue and brainstorm other solutions.  We have not yet heard from the organization, but remain hopeful they will accept the invitation.

More broadly, I can assure the university community that when issues of sexual violence are reported, the university takes prompt action to respond to the survivor’s report.  In doing so, the university attends to the concerns and needs of the survivor as well as to larger concerns of fundamental fairness for all students and the broad responsibility of campus safety.  Each situation requires institutional judgment and can take various forms, including the immediate removal of an accused individual from the campus until a hearing is held through the student conduct process.  In other circumstances, the accused individual may remain on campus.

In those instances, we ensure that a safety and monitoring plan is in place so that the survivor does not come in contact with the accused individual, as well as to help keep the campus community safe.  Such a plan may require a move in housing, a change in academic scheduling and a plan of movement and access to common areas.  The plan can also include multiple touch points for monitoring, including checks with Residential Directors, Public Safety, Academic Advisors, the Dean of Students and myself.  All of this can take place prior to the outcome of any student conduct hearing.

I am grateful for the attention to this very important issue and I welcome feedback from the student community.  Your input is valuable in assessing the effectiveness of our response.  I will also continue to work with the Dean of Students, Director of Housing Services, Public Safety and Residential Education to review protocols regarding ensuring campus safety while accommodating the needs of survivors.

1 Comment

One Response to “Letter to the editor: Title IX coordinator addresses concerns of sexual violence in dorms”

  1. Luke Roopra on May 4th, 2016 3:53 pm

    Hi everyone!

    Just a few comments on the letter from Karen Tamburo/Depaul Title IX Coordinator

    There has to be a better process for students to independently submit sexual assault reports. I believe keeping that aspect within the campus makes them vulnerable to outside investigations for several reasons. It’s important to keep in mind – it’s not just about a rape on campus. It’s reporting a student witnessing events or students on campus experiencing sexual harassment or harassment after the assault or an event off campus.

    It’s more than a reporting process issue
    Campuses are in denial and don’t (won’t) realize the data allows aggregated information to show trends on campus. Using this information shapes policies and targets resources properly.

    About the FERPA comments
    It’s interesting how students that submit reports to campus, the data becomes restricted and can’t be shared – even to law enforcement. However, if that same student self reports independently, it breaks FERPA/HIPAA. Technology driven reporting solutions should allow the students complete anonymity (if they like) and they alone should have the capability to escalate the report to law enforcement.

    Overall, I’m sure the staff do the best they can. In the case of this letter, I don’t think Depaul really understands what’s happening.

    Survey data shows student’s want an independent solution for reporting sexual assaults on campus and campuses don’t. It’s that simple.

    Thanks for reading
    Luke Roopra

    [Reply]

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Letter to the editor: Title IX coordinator addresses concerns of sexual violence in dorms