July 29, 2021
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
On May 19, 2021, we shared with you a series of action items the University has committed to advancing, as well as the timeline for completion of specific training activities. In an effort to keep the campus informed of this important work, we want to highlight significant actions that have taken place and reaffirm our commitment to ensure meaningful and lasting change. We greatly appreciate the partnership between students, faculty, staff, administration, and members of the UVM community at large, in constructively addressing how we confront sexual misconduct and improve our response to students’ concerns.
Formation of Sexual Misconduct Response Team
For many years, the University has operated a multi-disciplinary committee, chaired by the Title IX Coordinator, to ensure all reports of sexual misconduct are responded to promptly and fully. Beginning in Fall 2021, this group will be reconstituted as the Sexual Misconduct Response Team (SMRT), and will include representatives from the following offices:
- Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity
- Dean of Students
- CARE Team
- UVM Police Services
- Center for Student Conduct
- Center for Health and Well Being
- Faculty Member
The SMRT will meet on a monthly basis, or more frequently as necessary, to monitor reports of sexual misconduct, and to engage in holistic case management to ensure that individuals receive the assistance they seek, including referrals for medical attention, counseling services, and advocacy support. The SMRT will also monitor access to appropriate administrative and criminal resolution options, and consider protective and remedial measures, regardless of whether a resolution process is pursued.
Sexual Violence Prevention Council (SVPC)
We are establishing an advisory body dedicated solely to sexual violence prevention and education – the Sexual Violence Prevention Council (SVPC). The SVPC will consist of student representatives from recognized student organizations and the student identity centers, and employees from key campus offices and units. The SVPC will serve as a resource to the offices of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students by providing student and stakeholder perspectives and input as it undertakes an assessment of current student prevention and education efforts, enhances those offerings, and develops a multi-year curriculum. The group will be selected and charged in early fall semester and will meet throughout the academic year.
Creation of Prevention and Education Director Position
We are excited to announce the creation of a new position within the office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students focused on sexual misconduct prevention. The Coordinator of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Education, who will also serve as the Deputy Title IX Coordinator, will be tasked with overseeing primary prevention and innovative evidence-based educational programming for students in the areas of sexual assault, relationship violence, gender-based stalking, and sexual harassment. In addition to evaluating and enhancing current programs, training, and related efforts, the Coordinator will lead efforts to develop and sustain a multi-year primary prevention training and educational curriculum. Engaging campus and community stakeholders will be critical to this work. Once hired, the Coordinator will serve as the Chair of the newly formed SVPC.
Campus Training and Education Efforts for Students
Sexual and gender-based violence is a public health issue that impacts our entire community, not just student organizations or individuals with particular identities. The new Coordinator of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Education will coordinate a centrally managed program to ensure that all students receive evidence-based programming in sexual misconduct prevention. UVM will now require all undergraduate students, not just incoming students, to complete interactive online courses on an annual basis. As in prior years, incoming students will be required to complete “Sexual Assault Prevention for Students” (SAPU). Returning students will be required to complete two modules – one in the fall and one in the spring – titled “Healthy Relationships” and “Taking Action” that build upon the concepts from the first-year course. These new course offerings provide information on bystander intervention, consent, relationship dynamics, protection from retaliation, as well as UVM-specific support resources.
As a complement to current programming occurring for students in the Graduate College and the Larner College of Medicine, the Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Director of AAEO have solicited information from all campus offices engaged in relevant programming to create a comprehensive inventory. This inventory will be used by the Coordinator of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Education and the SVPC as they continue to evolve our campus curriculum.
AAEO Staff Training
Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity (AAEO) staff and members of the Center for Student Conduct (CSC) who are involved in the sexual misconduct resolution process are currently completing a comprehensive trauma-informed training curriculum through the SUNY Student Conduct Institute. Additional opportunities for education and training on key elements will be identified and assigned to appropriate personnel on an ongoing basis.
AAEO is working with UVM Communications and other campus partners to increase awareness of support services and reporting options through website enhancements and campus messaging.
Initiation of External AAEO Review
The University has retained Grand River Solutions to conduct an independent review of AAEO’s response to issues of sexual misconduct under the University’s Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy and the Handling and Resolving Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Procedure. As part of the review process, individuals who have utilized the services of AAEO will be provided an opportunity to share feedback. The report is expected to be delivered to the President later this summer.
The Provost charged a workgroup with reviewing promising internship programs in the area of sexual violence prevention and support that have been successful on other campuses, as well as existing models at UVM. The workgroup is now in the process of gaining a deeper understanding of the specific components of these programs and assessing models that would be most impactful at UVM. The workgroup will submit a report to the Provost by August 15.
Erica Caloiero, Interim Vice Provost for Student Affairs
Nick Stanton, Title IX Coordinator