Dear Knox Community,
We are writing today to provide several updates on the College’s ongoing efforts to create a safe and respectful campus community.
Prevention and Education
Prior to arriving on campus, new students were introduced to both Haven and AlcoholEdu online training programs. To date, more than 80% of the Class of 2020 has completed both programs. SPARK mentors, Admission Ambassadors, Resident Assistants, and Orientation Leaders were also asked to complete the programs, which are available at my.knox.edu by clicking on the Haven icon. All members of the Knox community are encouraged to complete this training.
In addition to the online education, returning students trained as peer facilitators led 90-minute interactive workshops for all new students, covering reporting, trauma-informed response, combating rape myths and supporting survivors, and active bystander intervention. Following positive student feedback last year, the group, Speak About It once again offered their performance-based presentation about consent, boundaries, and healthy relationships, and offered facilitation training to all Orientation Leaders and Resident Assistants.
Resident Assistants were also certified in Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPS) to help students make sound choices when faced with difficult decisions about alcohol use. Additional TIPS opportunities are planned for fall term.
A new Illinois law requiring colleges and universities to take action to prevent and respond to sexual violence complaints went into effect on August 1, 2016. In accordance with this new legislation, the College’s Policy Against Sex Discrimination, Sexual Misconduct, and Interpersonal Violence and the accompanying Investigation and Resolution Procedures for Allegations of Sex Discrimination, Sexual Misconduct, and Interpersonal Violence have been revised to ensure we remain in full compliance. The changes reflect clarifications and additional improvements and are in direct response to both legal requirements, national best practices, and feedback from members of the campus community. We will update the College’s website (www.knox.edu/respect) and provide additional print materials and other resources in the weeks ahead. As always, we welcome your continued responsiveness to these important matters.
In our continuing efforts to provide resources to those who have been affected by sexual violence, an additional on-campus confidential position has been created. Lisa Seiwert, director of spiritual life, is available to provide confidential guidance and support to students as they consider their rights and weigh their options for the best and most empowering decisions they can make in their own lives. This confidential position is in addition to the current staff in Health Services and Counseling Services, who are all confidential reporters, and provide support services and guidance to students who are affected by sexual violence.
As a member institution of the Higher Education Data Sharing (HEDS) consortium, Knox participated for the second consecutive year in a sexual assault climate survey. Our response rate to the most recent survey was only 18%, much lower than other participating institutions. As a result, our survey did not provide enough responses to reliably generalize results to the entire Knox student body. Despite that, we do note that the students who did complete the survey reported high levels of agreement that faculty, staff, and other students contribute to a positive and supportive campus climate.
Other responses served as a reminder of the work still to be done, including that Knox students of all genders report being at higher risk of sexual assault and are less confident in the College’s response to a reported sexual assault than students at other institutions. Although this is an important caution, additional analysis garnered through the online educational program Haven, as well as individual surveys administered to all new students during New Student Orientation, point to increased awareness of available resources, including confidential ones, and important improvements in students’ knowledge and ability to successfully intervene as active bystanders.
As you know from Director of Campus Safety Mark Welker’s email on Friday, September 30, 2016, the College’s Annual Security Report is now available (online here or in print from the Campus Safety office). This includes the federally required crime statistics (also referred to as Clery data) for the calendar year 2015, as well as other important safety information.
In addition to the Clery data for 2015, the College also provides aggregate information on cases resolved during academic year 2015-16 involving alleged or suspected violations of the College’s sexual discrimination policy:
14 reports of sexual misconduct involving students were resolved. 10 were for incidents which occurred during the 2015-16 academic year, and 4 were for incidents that occurred in a prior year, but resulted in an investigation and resolution in 2015-16.
An investigation was completed for 9 cases, and 5 were resolved voluntarily.
5 investigations resulted in a finding of responsibility for a violation of College policy, including 1 case in which the responding party accepted responsibility. The resulting sanctions were 1 suspension for two or more terms, and 4 dismissals with no possibility of re-admission.
4 investigations found that the preponderance of the evidence did not support a conclusion that the responding party violated College policy.
In addition to the 14 reports that were investigated and resolved, there were 23 matters in which the reporting party requested confidentiality and/or indicated their desire for no further investigation or resolution. In accordance with OCR guidance, the College determined these requests could be honored. Resources and interim and/or protective measures were provided in all of these cases.
2 reports of stalking.
3 reports of relationship violence.
3 reports of sexual harassment.
13 reports of sexual assault.
1 report of sexual exploitation.
1 report undefined.
There were 5 anonymous reports for which the information provided was insufficient to permit a full investigation at the time.
Every report is heartbreaking, but each disclosure also allows an opportunity for those who have experienced any form of discrimination and/or harassment to receive support and access resources. We remain committed to prevention and awareness education to eliminate gender-based violence and to the prompt and equitable resolution of all alleged or suspected violations of the College’s policy.
It has already been a busy fall, with several programs yet to come, including a campus visit October 23-25 by nationally known expert Dr. Alan Berkowitz. Dr. Berkowitz will present a variety of workshops on sexual violence prevention utilizing a social norms and active bystander intervention approach. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and in addition to other campus programs being offered by Counseling Services, Safe Harbor will sponsor a ‘Take Back the Night’ rally at Lake Storey on October 18; free transportation is available through the Kleine Center for Community Service for students who wish to volunteer or participate in this powerful event. Everyone can show their support for healthy relationships and ending relationship violence on October 20 for national ‘Wear Purple Day,’ and we hope you might consider showing your support.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns about the information we’ve shared today, please feel free to contact us.
Teresa Amott, President
Anne Ehrlich, Vice President for Student Development
Kim Schrader, Lead Title IX Coordinator