Sexual Assault Prevention and Response at the University of Oregon

Sexual Assault Prevention and Response at the University of Oregon

The past 16 months have been a time of assessment and action for the University of Oregon, focused on ending sexual violence on campus.

With the input and assistance of the University Senate Task Force on Sexual Violence and the President’s Review Panel, as well as the team in the Division of Student Life, the university has taken a series of actions, including new initiatives and added staff, designed to further the goal of creating a culture where students are free from sexual violence.

While we have made significant progress, our work is nowhere near complete. But thanks to the hard work of the entire campus community, we have a framework for success and improvement―built upon faculty expertise and involvement and the unrelenting passion of the team in student life and the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity―for helping keep our students safe.

New Initiatives and Key Hires

Associate Vice President/Title IX Coordinator: The university is in the process of hiring a new campus leader to combat and respond to sexual harassment and sexual violence. The associate vice president and Title IX officer will report to the president and the vice president for student life, and will be responsible for coordinating and strengthening effective campus-wide prevention, response, and support efforts in compliance with Title IX.

Renewed commitment and leadership infrastructure:  The university has created an umbrella structure to connect all the resources and programs related to sexual harassment and sexual violence. Under this new structure, a leadership team and an appointed advisory council will meet regularly and work with the new AVP/Title IX Coordinator to create a strategic plan and continually review, assess, and make additional improvement to the university’s work to end sexual harassment and sexual violence. 

Additional staff: In addition to the AVP/Title IX coordinator, the university is appointing twodeputy Title IX coordinators on campus. The university will also hire an additional prevention specialist and Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity (AAEO) investigator. These staff investments are in addition to those made over the last three years that include two AAEO investigators, a part-time police detective, and two prevention specialists to support campus efforts to address issues of sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Student Conduct Code: After extensive discussions and consultation with the University Senate, numerous changes have been made to the Student Conduct Code. These changes included enhanced protections for survivors, clarity regarding behavioral expectations, and enhanced accountability.

Fraternity and Sorority Life external review: Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) has been active in its efforts to curb incidents of sexual harassment and sexual violence.  Among the actions taken:

  • The formation of an FSL Sexual Assault Task Force;
  • Training for student leaders in prevention programs; and
  • Development of sanctions against fraternities and sororities that fail to adequately address sexual misconduct issues and related issues of alcohol and drug abuse.

The university has also begun an external review of FSL. This review will help us better understand any remaining issues in FLS and make recommendations for additional programs and changes. Until the review is complete, a moratorium has been placed on additional growth in FSL, however the existing commitments to FSL chapters will be honored.

Website enhancements: After a collaborative process of input from the University of Oregon Police Department, the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, the Division of Student Life, and key faculty and staff members, the safe.uoregon.edu website has been overhauled and updated. Key new features include improved navigation and search functions to allow students to find available support programs and other resources.

SWAT facilitated discussions: After a thorough and systematic evaluation of available sexual assault prevention models, faculty members and graduate students from the Prevention Science Institute recommended enhancing the current Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team’s (SWAT) “It Can’t Be Rape” program by including peer-led discussion sessions. These research-based, facilitated discussion groups take place at each IntroDUCKtion session (the university’s orientation program).

Athletic resources for SWAT:  The athletic department will commit resources to the SWAT to support programs focused on eliminating sexual harassment and sexual violence on campus.

Inclusion of new questions in the admissions application: The university has added questions regarding disciplinary and criminal history to its undergraduate application. The questions are consistent with the best practice recommendations of the professional organization of admissions officers and with practices of most large peer institutions throughout the country.  

Memorandum of Understanding: The university has executed a memorandum of understanding with the City of Eugene about how Eugene police and the university will share information to ensure timely reporting and investigation of sexual assault offenses.

Confidential reporting options:  The university has added additional confidential reporting options for students in the Office of the Dean of Students and the Ombuds Program.

Campus climate surveys: The university funded two campus climate surveys regarding sexual assault in spring 2015. One was a national survey associated with the Association of American Universities (AAU). The other was conducted locally by UO Psychology Professor Jennifer Freyd and her colleagues. Results are expected to be available this fall.

Ongoing initiatives

“It Can’t Be Rape”: For more than ten years, the SWAT has performed the “It Can’t Be Rape” program for all new students during IntroDUCKtion. This interactive performance by specially trained students through the SWAT teaches new students about our expectations regarding sexual conduct and consent, as well as alcohol and other drug use.

Women’s empowerment based self-defense classes: Beginning last academic year, women’s empowerment-based self-defense classes have been offered as credit classes through the physical education department. These classes are based on the research of Professor Jocelyn Hollander and taught by Professor Hollander in collaboration with our PE instructor for the physical aspects of the class.

AlcoholEdu/Haven: For the past four years, the university has required that all incoming students under the age of 21 do an online training that includes alcohol abuse education (alcohol.edu) and education about prevention of sexual violence (Haven).

SAFE website: Since April 2014, a 24/7 crisis line (541-346-SAFE) has provided confidential support, as well as resources and information for students who have experienced sexual harassment and assault. The SAFE website (safe.uoregon.edu) provides extensive information and resources for survivors. Additionally, a brochure “Help for Students” has been distributed to faculty, staff, incoming students, students in the residence halls, and other at-risk individuals. This brochure contains information about processes and procedures, and provides guidance for student survivors and the faculty and staff who will assist those students.

Ducks Do Something: The Ducks Do Something video and campaign was developed to implement the White House “It’s On Us” initiative. The video featured student leaders talking about stepping in and speaking out to prevent harm to fellow students. It was shown at athletic events and student gatherings, and featured prominently in social media. The campaign also included a student video contest, as well as posters and other materials to expand its reach.

Specialized targeted programming: The university has created specialized targeted programming and training for students involved in FSL, international students, and student athletes. 

Future Plans  

Get Explicit:  This fall the university will roll out a peer program for students who live in residence halls. The training will include interactive discussions about healthy relationships, boundaries, consent, social norms, and bystander intervention.

Policy review: The university is in the process of reviewing all of its policies, and has prioritized the review of polices related to student safety and any form of sexual harassment or sexual violence.

Website enhancements: A complementary website to safe.uoregon.edu, respect.uoregon.edu, is in development. This website will provide clear and accessible information about all prevention programs and resources and will launch this fall.

Brochure for faculty and staff: The university will publish and disseminate to faculty and staff a brochure outlining sexual harassment and sexual violence resources.

Develop prevention and education effort: The university is developing additional prevention programs to span a student’s academic career and to include all graduate and professional students.