Redoubling Our Efforts | Send to a Friend
Washington State University Office of the President

To the WSU Community:

Over the past several months, there has been considerable attention focused on sexual violence on America’s college and university campuses. We take the safety of our students very seriously, and there is no greater responsibility I have as president of WSU than the safety of our students, faculty, and staff.

Sexual violence is a serious issue and requires a redoubling of effort in order to reduce the many forms in which it is manifest on college campuses. According to Department of Justice statistics, one in five young women is a victim of gender-based violence while attending college. At WSU, student survey data produced by the National College Health Assessment from the 2012–2013 school year indicates that nearly 15 percent of undergraduate students had experienced some form of interpersonal violence (sexual assault, dating violence, stalking) in the previous 12 months. These numbers are too high, and clearly, we must do more.

Although WSU has already implemented many changes in its policies, practices, and training over the past few years to address issues of sexual violence, I have directed the University to take additional concrete measures to address sexual assault on campus. We are currently engaged in focused efforts across four main areas to further improve our performance, including the following: 1) improved education and communication regarding acceptable standards and conduct; 2) increased focus on prevention and intervention; 3) an enhanced reporting and response infrastructure that will provide victims with safe and reliable options for ensuring their needs are met; and 4) deeper collaboration with area nonprofits and law enforcement to ensure the university is engaging in best practices in confronting and reducing sexual violence on our campuses.

In order to achieve these outcomes, WSU is engaging in a coordinated campus and community-wide campaign to educate our student population on safety measures to prevent sexual assault from occurring and to engage our staff to respond quickly and thoroughly when it does occur and to act in a thoughtful manner to respect the privacy of our students. I have tasked individuals and offices from across our campuses to work together with community leaders to provide education, intervention, and support to students no matter the circumstances. Some of the specific actions taken include the following:

Improved Leadership and Focus
Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, any institution receiving federal funds must have at least one staff person designated as the Title IX coordinator responsible for responding to violations. These responsibilities include coordinating investigations of complaints received pursuant to Title IX and the implementing regulations.

It is important that the individual in this position possess both compassion for students and a thorough understanding of the community and the law in order to execute the University’s Title IX obligations. I recently appointed Kimberly Anderson as Title IX coordinator, and she has made significant improvements in WSU’s handling of sexual assault complaints, including promptly providing resources, information, and assistance to complainants; increasing efficiency and timeliness in investigations of complaints; and improving communication and coordination with other WSU offices, including the Office of Student Standards and Accountability. We have augmented the Office for Equal Opportunity staff with two new investigators. WSU also is in the final stages of hiring a chief compliance and ethics officer, who will work closely with Ms. Anderson and the other individuals and offices leading WSU’s Title IX efforts.

In addition, the university must dedicate more resources to coordinating communications and case management. To that end, the process has begun for a new position that will be responsible for better facilitating communications between students, parents, the Pullman/Moscow community, and the WSU administration, focusing exclusively on educating on issues related to sexual assault. Additionally, a case manager is being hired to coordinate care and follow-up for students involved in Title IX-related matters.

The dean of students has been instructed to look at the best way to expand our partnership with Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse (the local victims’ advocacy agency) to enhance the existing dedicated sexual assault call line to provide easily accessible and immediate service to victims. We will ensure broad promotion through campus communications, the Greek system, and other channels to inform students, faculty, and staff of this resource.

Outreach and Community Coordination
We will continue to engage sexual assault support groups in the Pullman area to explore expanding our campus capabilities for coordinating education and communication with our students and faculty regarding prevention and education. Using resources we successfully competed for from the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women, the University for the past two years has convened regular Coordinated Community Response (CCR) team meetings. The meetings include participation from Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, local law enforcement, university offices, students, and staff from the Violence Prevention Center. Consistent with the purpose of the grant, we will focus our energies on creating an environment where we can provide seamless, respectful care for survivors of assault.

Ongoing Education and Prevention
WSU has a robust education and prevention infrastructure currently in place, and in advance of the 2014–2015 academic school year planned new initiatives targeted at incoming students, the current student body, faculty, and staff. These efforts include:

Incoming Students
In 2013, WSU implemented a mandatory workshop for all incoming undergraduate students during Alive!, our required student orientation. This 30-minute, small-group-format presentation covers the basic information every student needs about policies, resources, and reporting options. During our Week of Welcome, students are also required to attend a workshop entitled “Booze, Sex, and Reality Checks,” which addresses issues of alcohol and sexual decision-making.

This fall, incoming students were required to participate in a mandatory, one-hour session during the Week of Welcome introducing all new students to the Green Dot bystander intervention model.

All of these prevention efforts include information about the University’s Title IX efforts, including the names and contact information for the Title IX coordinator and deputy coordinators, names and contact information for confidential reporting resources, and information about all campus offices that can provide services and support to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking.

Current Student Population
Since 2010, WSU has offered and participated in the Green Dot bystander intervention program that focuses on making our campus safer by empowering bystanders to become active members in reducing power-based personal violence. The program helps students identify situations and equips them to intervene.

During the 2012–2013 academic year, Green Dot facilitators worked with nearly 10,000 WSU students in programs ranging from introductory presentations to lengthy, in-depth discussions, while also utilizing social media as a platform to push out information on identification and prevention. Going forward, WSU will continue to collaborate with the Green Dot organization to prepare and instruct our students.

In addition, the Office for Equal Opportunity publishes advertisements each semester in the Daily Evergreen and sends email notices to all students that include contact information and instructions on accessing confidential and non-confidential resources.

The Office of Equal Opportunity, in conjunction with the Office of Human Resources, provides mandatory discrimination and sexual harassment prevention training to WSU employees. This training includes information about employee reporting obligations and names and contact information for resources for students.

Plans for the upcoming school year include a climate survey, a faculty summit, and training developed specifically for supporting victims of sexualized violence in the GLBTQ community, victims with disabilities, and international students.

Enhanced Response Capabilities
WSU works to ensure that when students are victims of sexual misconduct, stalking, or domestic violence, that our response is equitable, care-driven, swift, and as supportive as possible. We are continuing to monitor and improve our response capabilities to ensure that we have a system-wide approach to addressing the WSU community’s needs. These efforts include collaborations with supporting institutions as well as internal operations, including:

WSU’s Health and Wellness Services (HWS) houses a women’s clinic within the student medical clinic and has Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) available during clinic hours in addition to financial support for medical care after an assault.

Counseling and Testing Services has a sexual assault response coordinator available at all times and offers free, confidential counseling and support for WSU student victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.

Students also have access to 24-hour local victim services: Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse (ATVP), a nonprofit victim service provider, which has an office on campus at HWS; Pullman Regional Hospital for SANE exams outside of campus medical clinic hours; and the Pullman Police Department and WSU Police.

Planned Parenthood also serves WSU students with off-campus medical care, including sexual health.

Students have the option of confidential reporting to Health and Wellness staff, Counseling and Testing Services staff, and ATVP staff.

In accordance with recent guidance from the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR), we will extend a level of confidential reporting to all staff of the Violence Prevention Programs Office.

Reports to other university staff are forwarded to the Office for Equal Opportunity; all frontline staff in Student Affairs are trained to provide referrals and support, and to report “up but not out.”

Our online Aware Network allows students and employees to report concerns 24 hours a day; members of WSU’s Student Care Team (a multidisciplinary behavioral intervention and response team) triage these reports and coordinate appropriate outreach and referrals.

The Office of Student Standards and Accountability, the Office for Equal Opportunity, and the Dean of Students’ Office meet weekly for case management related to current investigations, and to coordinate interim measures as necessary, including interim suspension and trespass notices, temporary or permanent moves, revising class schedules, arranging escorts, or notifying faculty of temporary absences.

As attention continues to rightfully focus on the problem of sexual violence on our college campuses and what we, collectively, can do to reduce the incidence of these crimes, we at WSU know there is more work to do in ensuring a safer environment for our university community. I have, and will continue to, focus attention and resources on this problem in an effort to make meaningful and lasting progress. I commit to a robust and transparent process in letting you know about the concrete steps we are taking to improve our performance on these issues going forward.

Elson S. Floyd, Ph.D.
Pullman • Spokane • Tri-Cities • Vancouver • Global Campus • Extension
Office of the President, Washington State University
PO Box 641048, Pullman, WA 99164-1048