Stephen Pradarelli, Office for Research and Economic Development, 319-384-1282
FAQs regarding sexual misconduct
FAQs regarding sexual misconduct
FAQs regarding sexual misconduct
The problem of sexual assault is a challenge for campuses and communities nationally. At the University of Iowa, we are directly confronting this problem. We are being transparent about the issue, and we are using research-based solutions to address it. Here are the facts.
Why are we hearing so much these days about sexual assaults in Iowa City?
The University has chosen to communicate more frequently about this issue. We have done this for three reasons:
- To assure that students receive information that we are required to provide by law
- To educate students about the issue, and
- To send the message to offenders that we will hold them accountable.
Starting in September, we have intentionally increased the number of “Timely Warning” emails. These are messages that go to all faculty, staff, and students when we learn of sexual misconduct (offenses of several kinds, from unwanted touching to forcible rape). We have issued nine such messages this academic year.
Several of the warnings we sent relate to assaults committed by someone that the victim knows. In previous years, we didn’t always issue warnings about this kind of incident.
In addition to these campus warnings, earlier this month the Iowa City Police Department published reports that it has received of three assaults committed off-campus by a cabdriver against adult women.
Are sexual assaults increasing on the campus?
We have no evidence that the number of crimes occurring is any different. The number of sexual offenses reported to University of Iowa Police dropped from eight in calendar year 2012 to four in 2013. The perception of more assaults is actually the result of more people stepping forward to tell the university, coupled with our policy of communicating more transparently.
Why does the university send out Timely Warnings?
The federal Clery Act requires educational institutions to notify students, staff, and faculty when serious crimes occur on or near the campus. The law requires us to include information about the crime and to also provide safety tips and information that would help prevent similar crimes.
Institutions that fail to comply with this requirement can face fines and other sanctions imposed by the federal government.
Why have there been protests this week?
Rapes and sexual assaults are terrible crimes. Students are rightly concerned about the issue. There have been two peaceful demonstrations, which are allowable under university policy. The students are making reasonable requests, which we will grant.
What is President Mason’s position on this issue?
The president has been clear and consistent in speaking against sexual assault, and in assuring that the institution does everything in its power to prevent sexual misconduct, support survivors, and hold offenders accountable for their actions.
In response to recent student concerns, the president issued a statement on 2/20, sent a letter to the Daily Iowan (published on 2/25), and is holding a listening session on 2/27. She has spoken about this in her meetings with student groups and individuals and responded to emails sent to her.
What is the university doing about sexual misconduct?
We have multiple strategies in place—and on many, the University of Iowa is a national leader.
In the area of prevention, we:
- Require every student (undergraduate, graduate, and professional) to take and pass an online course on the topic, before they enroll. The course is based on research findings about what works best with this population.
- Mandate that every employee take and pass an online course—and in 2013 we achieved 100 percent compliance. We began this in 2008—fully six years before the federal government required all universities to do so.
- Make detailed information publicly available online and in print.
- Offer a voluntary “bystander intervention training” – already this year, more than 5.200 students, faculty, and staff have participated in it.
- Have formed an Anti-Violence Coalition, which brings campus members and community leaders together to collaborate on strategies and solutions.
In the area of policies, we:
- Have strong, clearly worded policies against sexual misconduct
- Are among the first in the nation to create an Office of Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator, which is empowered to assure that all parts of the institution comply with our policies. We formed this office in 2009. It is the only such office among Iowa’s universities and one of very few nationally.
In the area of law enforcement, we:
- Have a campus police force in which every officer undergoes advanced training on this topic
- Vigorously investigate all criminal complaints received on this type of crime
- Track and make public statistics on reports and arrests
- Provide “blue light” phones in strategic locations, to make it easier for people to report suspicious activity or summon police
In the area of student conduct, we:
- Clearly prohibit all forms of sexual misconduct in the UI policy governing “Sexual Misconduct Policy involving Students,” Part IV, Chapter 2 of the UI’s Operations Manual
- Hold every offender responsible for infractions of UI policy and/or the Code of Student Life
- Impose sanctions that depend on the nature of the wrongdoing, which can include long-term suspension and/or expulsion
In the area of assistance to survivors, we:
- Fund the Rape Victim Advocacy Program, which provides 24/7 support and assistance for members of the campus and the surrounding communities
- Provide confidential information to survivors about their options
- Link survivors to legal, medical, counseling and other services on campus and in the community
How do Iowa’s efforts compare to other institutions?
The University of Iowa is starting to be recognized as a national leader in combating this kind of crime.
We are one of the few institutions to receive a federal grant to support our efforts. This $300,000 grant from the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women is helping us expand training, prevention, and intervention efforts.
We were one of four schools asked to present our strategies earlier this month at a national Department of Justice conference on the topic.
Where can I get more information?
Read an Iowa Now story that provides details: now.uiowa.edu/2014/02/president-mason-no-excuse-sexual-assault
View the Office of Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator website: osmrc.uiowa.edu/
This story was updated at 12:19 p.m. Feb. 28, 2014