Apr 142017

I have decided to give this website a long overdue makeover, as I have been wanting to simplify the professional site a bit, and I have been desiring to create a personal site attached to this address as well. It’s going to take a few weeks to complete, but the basic outline is done and now I am just trying to redesign the pages that will be maintained moving forward. As the name of this post suggests, I am taking this opportunity to “re-set” this blog. I am only going to maintain a small selection of past writings, and most related to Title IX and/or social justice. Moving forward, I will be writing periodic pieces on Title IX, as well as social justice, and conflict resolution.

A couple of quick updates for readers:

  1. As many readers know, I am over a year into my new role as the Director of Title IX Compliance for The Texas A&M University System, based in College Station. It is a position I am enjoying tremendously, as I get to work with people from eleven different universities, seven state agencies, a health science center, and a law school, comprising over 140,000 students and over 30,000 employees. In addition to serving as a technical consultant and reviewer of written materials, I also have the opportunity to develop and present training programs to a wide variety of people across our system. Because this is a new position, I have the opportunity to truly create something in the A&M System, and am appreciative every day of the uniqueness of this opportunity. 
  2. I am currently working with members of NCHERM-CR to develop a next generation of materials on conflict resolution, mediation, conflict coaching, and restorative justice. It’s premature to share too many details at this time, but I am very excited about the direction of the project, and have had my enthusiasm for this effort renewed by some dear friends and colleagues. There will be more to come on this, but a long awaited improvement on the previous training materials is making progress.

There will be much more news to share in the months ahead, as I am engaged in several different projects. So please keep checking back.

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Sep 092014

Ray Rice videoAs a student affairs practitioner, it has occurred to me this week watching the Ray Rice fiasco unfold that, in most university settings, things would be handled drastically differently. Unfortunately I do have to use the word “most” as a modifier here, because there are still a number of large Division One FBS programs conducting themselves more like the Ravens and the NFL, despite the federal government’s direction and justified intrusion into these matters. So with that modifier in place, in most cases Mr. Rice would be charged with physical abuse (in this case a Title IX offense) and be subjected to a thorough investigation and adjudication process. Mr. Rice’s due process would be protected, and there would also be a thorough investigation… not the shoddy and incomplete investigation conducted by the National Football League. And, simply based on the video evidence that I have seen with my own eyes, I am presuming that Mr. Rice would be found in violation of university policies. The sanctioning phase would consider the nature of his offense, his prior history, institutional precedence, and other factors. Based solely on the nature of the offense, in my professional judgment I think it is safe to say that Mr. Rice would be expelled from school.

Beyond just addressing Mr. Rice’s behavior in proportion to his offense, the sanction would have the added benefit of being consistent with sanctions for other offenses. At most institutions, we don’t throw students out of school for a semester for a first drug violation, nor do we typically allow those who serve time for vehicular manslaughter and other crimes to immediately return to a campus environment without great assurance that the guilty party no longer presents a threat to other members of the community.

If only life in the NFL came close to these standards. Continue reading »

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Apr 292014

us-whitehouse-logoAs the media is widely reporting this morning, the White House has issued its anticipated report on campus sexual assault. Entitled, “Not Alone”, the 20 page report addresses the need for campus climate surveys, engaging men in the prevention of sexual assault, developing effective responses when an assault is reported, and improving transparency and enforcement. For convenience, I have linked the report here.

Just as importantly, the Office for Civil Rights has also released its long awaited set of guidelines in response to many questions raised in the wake of the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter. This is a far more fascinating read, as many practical questions directed to OCR during the past three years have received either mixed answers, or resulted only in verbal guidance. This 46 page document (linked here) addresses very practical and immediate questions on school obligations to respond, students protected by Title IX, procedural requirements, responsible employees and reporting, confidentiality, investigations and hearings, interim measures, remedies and notice of outcome, appeals, and several other topics.

Obviously, many of us will now spend weeks scouring these documents to look for ways to make improvements to our processes. The reports come in the wake of Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill’s issuance of a survey to 350 college and university presidents to determine how schools handle rapes and sexual assault on campus. McCaskill indicated she is focusing in particular on how those crimes are reported and investigated and how students are notified about the services available to them.

I have only given each document one reading so far, but my initial reaction is that both documents can be of great value to colleges and universities. In particular, I was glad to see a number of very specific situations addressed in the OCR guidelines, and expect OCR’s many concrete answers to be of value to policy makers and practitioners alike. I will post with more details once I have read them again and can spare some writing time.

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Feb 212014

White HouseAs has been well publicized, President Barack Obama recently established a White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. The overarching goals of this group, by order of the President, are:

(i) providing examples of instructions, policies, and protocols for institutions, including: rape and sexual assault policies; prevention programs; crisis intervention and advocacy services; complaint and grievance procedures; investigation protocols; adjudicatory procedures; disciplinary sanctions; and training and orientation modules for students, staff, and faculty;

(ii) measuring the success of prevention and response efforts at institutions, whether through compliance with individual policies or through broader assessments of campus climate, attitudes and safety, and providing the public with this information;

Continue reading »

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