Wake Forest University has taken a leadership position in national efforts to prevent and respond to sexual assault on college campuses.
On Thursday, Vice President for Campus Life Penny Rue was one of four panelists who testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Higher Education and the Workforce Training about “Preventing and Responding to Sexual Assault on College Campuses” (video). In addition to her role at Wake Forest, Rue serves as the Public Policy Division Chair of NASPA, the leading association for student affairs professionals.
Rue’s testimony identified areas of concern in the existing legislative and regulatory landscape and also shared examples of efforts to reduce incidents of sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence on college campuses across the country.
“For student affairs professionals nationwide, effectively addressing sexual assault and gender-based violence has been a priority for decades because of our genuine care for the health, safety and well-being of our students,” Rue said.
Her written testimony pointed to a recent poll conducted by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation to combat “the current media hype that colleges don’t get it.” According to the Washington Post, 25 percent of young women and seven percent of young men said they experienced unwanted sexual incidents in college, but overall students reported feeling confident in their schools’ handling of sexual assault reports and did not put sexual assault atop a list of possible concerns about their school.
Rue’s testimony underscored the need for additional prevention efforts nationwide, as well as confidential, institution-specific student conduct processes that are fair and equitable to all parties involved. She encouraged lawmakers to avoid one-size-fits-all policy solutions to educating, preventing and responding to sexual assault on college campuses.
Currently, colleges and universities in the United States must address compliance responsibilities under FERPA, the Clery Act, the Campus SaVE Act provisions of VAWA, regulatory guidance on Title IX from the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, and recommendations from the White House Task Force on Sexual Assault, among others.
“Those of us who handle incidents of sexual violence on campus are professionals who share an overwhelming commitment to strike the delicate balance in today’s legislative and regulatory environment to preserve the educational rights of victims, to manage fair and equitable conduct systems, and above all to prevent sexual violence.”
Like many colleges and universities, Wake Forest employs a number of prevention efforts and is committed to developing new programming to help students, faculty and staff understand issues relating to sexual and gender-based violence, consent and bystander intervention. Examples include:
- PREPARE peer educators (students) – Since 1987, PREPARE peer educators have delivered highly interactive, situational programs to put incoming student’s attitudes to the test and really get them to think.
- Title IX coordinator (students, faculty and staff) – In 2014, Wake Forest hired Tanya Jachimiak, the University’s first full-time Title IX coordinator. Her office is responsible for oversight and coordination of the University’s Title IX compliance efforts, while also partnering extensively with the Safe Office, the Office of the Dean of Students, and Office of Wellbeing, to offer awareness campaigns and prevention programs.
- Orientation sessions (students and parents) – For many years, freshmen and their parents have attended new student orientation sessions relating to sexual assault prevention and education efforts.
- Online training (students) – The Title IX Office has begun the rollout of the HAVEN online training program, which will educate all students about sexual misconduct behaviors, prevention, reporting and support resources.
- Bystander intervention training (students) – Later this fall, Wake Forest will invite students to participate in a program on bystander intervention training using the Step-Up model co-developed by the NCAA and the University of Arizona.
- “Stop, Drop and Roll” workshops (faculty and staff) – Together, Wake Forest’s Title IX and Safe Office offer training to equip faculty and staff with the care and confidence needed to respond if students disclose incidents of sexualized violence and handle such sensitive situations in compliance with Federal law.
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