The universities that responded to the Campus Activities Survey differ in key characteristics. Some are public, others private, and others are Canadian institutions. They vary in the size of the student body, ratio of undergraduates to graduate students, and number of faculty and staff. But all are research universities with complex, and often decentralized, organizations, and the issue of sexual assault and misconduct on campus cuts across many university structures. One key way in which universities are responding to these issues is by better coordinating between offices.
95% (52/55) of responding institutions indicated that they are developing new coordination or data-sharing relationships between offices and programs to help address sexual assault and misconduct on campus.
Many campuses have established high-level working groups or task forces to address these issues in a coordinated fashion. Indeed, more than half (29/55) of responding institutions mentioned the existence of such a group. At Tulane University, the Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Coalition — a group of senior-level administrators, students, faculty, and staff, including the Title IX coordinator — works to improve current prevention efforts while also seeking new, innovative ways to understand and combat sexual assault and misconduct.
At Cornell University, a coalition of key stakeholders across campus including students, staff, faculty, administrators and community partners meet to discuss issues related to sexual violence prevention. Members of the coalition study and evaluate campus policies, procedures, prevention strategies, and services, as well as the overall campus environment, and examine opportunities to foster cultural changes, reducing risks, and increasing the support for all members of the community affected by sexual violence.This collaboration of students, faculty, staff, and community providers represents a partnership for cultivating a safe campus environment.
Some institutions have reorganized offices to centralize functions or coordination of functions. New York University has established the Center for Sexual Misconduct Support Services (also known as “the SPACE”) provides confidential assistance to complainants in matters of sexual misconduct, relationship violence, and stalking. The Center works alongside the medical and mental health professionals of the NYU Student Health Center as well as its other partners around the University including the Office of Equal Opportunity, The Student Conduct and Community Standards Office, Public Safety, the Center for Multicultural Education and Programs, LGBTQ Student Services and other units which all seek to provide services and resources that respond to reports of sexual misconduct on the NYU campus. The Center also coordinates educational outreach, prevention efforts, and training initiatives, and serves as a liaison to all student groups active in sexual misconduct prevention and awareness.
The University of Toronto is creating a new Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre. The Centre will have primary responsibility for gathering information regarding the number of disclosures and reports of sexual violence on campus, which previously were housed in different departments (e.g., Campus Police, Human Resources). To centralize data, the Centre will develop connections with the various locations in which individuals can currently disclose.
Similarly, some universities have developed new collaborations and relationships between offices. For example, the University of Virginia has enacted a multi-office partnership to develop a comprehensive reporting incident system that will enhance coordination among offices, improve response, and provide robust data for multiple purposes. This multi-office partnership includes the office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights, the Student Affairs Office, the Clery Center for Security, and the Information Technology Office.
At Boston University, weekly meetings are held with the Title IX Coordinator, the Office of Judicial Affairs, and the Dean of Students to review all new cases and cases in progress. Interim measures and potential complaint outcomes are also discussed during the group’s meetings.
Some institutions have adopted new or shared databases to better facilitate coordination and flow of relevant information. For example, Cornell University has streamlined the reporting of incidents and sharing of data among relevant offices by creating an online form to report incidents of bias, discrimination, harassment, hazing, or sexual misconduct. Individuals can go to websites for the office of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity, the Title IX Coordinator, and the Office of the Judicial Administrator, as well as the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Education (SHARE) website and Cornell’s hazing prevention website (hazing.cornell.edu) to access the online reporting form and obtain information. Boston University highlighted its use of Advocate, a judicial database software tool that can share information across offices and be used to collect student conduct statistics and Clery data.
Some institutions have developed partnerships with outside entities to enhance and complement services provided by the university itself. For example, Johns Hopkins University participated in the development of an MOU between the Baltimore City Police Department and local colleges and universities to improve coordination on sexual misconduct matters affecting the campus community.
The University of Virginia has entered into a Sexual Assault Resource Team MOU with local law enforcement and community advocates to improve response to sexual and gender-based violence and sexual assault.
In addition to better coordination, universities were asked whether, over the last three academic years, they had increased the amount of resources (including funds and full-time equivalent employees, or FTEs) devoted to sexual assault and misconduct in particular categories. More than half of responding institutions increased resources devoted to each of the functions (Resources–Figure 1).
More than 90% (50/55) of institutions reported increasing resources in each of three categories: victim support (50/55), student training (53/55), and faculty and staff training (50/55).
82% (45/55) of institutions reported increasing resources in all three of these categories, and 96% (53/55) increased resources in at least two of the three.
Specific new victim-support roles mentioned by institutions include victim advocates, clinical support, therapists and counselors (including confidential counseling and trauma-informed counseling), care managers and coordinators, support navigators, SANE nurses, and attorneys focused on victim support. New training and education roles (for students, faculty, and staff) mentioned by institutions include education specialists, program coordinators, peer educators, and education directors. New law enforcement roles include special victim services and dedicated investigators to sexual assault and misconduct cases, as well as adding victim support capacity to university policy and public safety offices.
A significant number of institutions have added full-time Title IX coordinators and investigators.
Institutions mentioned many positions that span several categories and/or encompass other administrative functions. Some of these focus on compliance with federal laws. A significant number of institutions have added full-time Title IX coordinators and investigators. Some have added positions related to case management and adjudication and Clery Act coordination and compliance. Some institutions have added high-level positions (e.g., Associate Dean, Assistant Vice President) to oversee relevant functions. Others have designated or added Human Resources staff to address student-employee or employee-employee cases, and added positions in the General Counsel’s office to address legal issues associated with campus sexual assault and misconduct.
A conservative tally of positions mentioned by institutions who provided specific information leads to a minimum estimate of 253 total additional FTEs across the institutions over the last three academic years. This translates to an average of nearly five new full-time employees per university. This estimate excludes existing employees whose positions were repurposed or who received additional training to work on these issues. It excludes the additional staff time contributed by existing employees (e.g., in survey administration and analysis). This estimate also does not encompass other types of funding, including software (e.g., for online training, data analysis, and case management), training (e.g., development, administration, and in some cases contracts with outside entities to provide), increased space needs, and survey costs (e.g., participant incentives) that universities have put toward understanding and combating sexual assault and misconduct.
Several institutions estimated their total costs in the millions. For example, Stanford University added more than $3 million to its general funds budget to cover expenses directly related to sexual assault prevention, education, support, and adjudication. The University of Virginia estimated spending $1.6 million since FY 2014 on new staff, systems, and programing needs devoted to these issues. These expenditures demonstrate the serious commitment that universities are making to student safety and well-being.
While a number of institutions reported on expenditures, universities also emphasized the steps they have taken to be as cost efficient as possible while still increasing the attention they give to sexual assault and misconduct prevention and response. Training existing employees, enhancing existing student support services, and capitalizing on services provided by community partners are all ways that institutions have controlled costs while still rising to the challenges posed by these issues.
Looking at what some institutions reported in terms of overall resource changes is helpful to understand the scope of some of these efforts. Michigan State University has added three new therapists, one new advocacy coordinator, and one new crisis counselor for the Sexual Assault Program. The university has also added six new investigators in the Office of Institutional Equity. A full-time position in the Special Victims Unit of the MSU Police department has been added to assist with sexual assault and domestic violence investigations.