The Collegian
Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The SMPRCC released its final report on sexual misconduct procedures at UR

<p>Graphic by Nolan Sykes of Puryear Hall, which houses the Title IX Office</p>

Graphic by Nolan Sykes of Puryear Hall, which houses the Title IX Office

The Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Coordinating Committee (SMPRCC), the successor to the President's Advisory Committee for Sexual Violence Prevention and Response (PAC), released its final report in January 2020 regarding the status of the PAC’s recommendations and the work the SMPRCC had done.

The SMPRCC started the fall semester of 2018 and was created in response to the PAC, which UR President Ronald A. Crutcher headed, said Logan Etheredge, a junior who served on the SMPRCC. The PAC created a list of recommendations regarding sexual misconduct prevention and response that it thought UR should change or improve, Etheredge said. The PAC ended in 2018, she said. 

UR administration created the SMPRCC to evaluate, refine and implement the PAC’s recommendations, according to the SMPRCC Final Report. There were 18 SMPRCC members, according to the report, with representatives from the faculty, staff and student body.

All 26 recommendations from the June 2017 PAC Interim Report were fully implemented in the UR community, according to the SMPRCC Final Report. Nine of the 41 recommendations from the June 2018 PAC Final Report were fully implemented, according to the SMPRCC Final Report.

“We met once a month as a committee and then there were subcommittees within that where I was focused more on student outreach, website updating and making sure that information that was being updated was accessible to students,” Etheredge said.

Etheredge said there had always been at least one student at each monthly committee meeting.

Etheredge worked specifically on changing the name of the Office of Sexual Misconduct and Prevention Response to CARE, or the Center for Awareness, Response and Education. Etheredge said that during her time on the SMPRCC, she created a form to send out to students regarding what types of titles they would prefer that office to have. 

“I think something that was difficult to mentally project or consider is if you’re a student [who has been in a vulnerable situation,] is it your first thought to log onto the university website?” Etheredge said. “What are you typing into the Google search to find resources? What kind of resources are you looking for?”

There were some high profile cases that prompted UR to create the PAC, said Steve Thompson, an associate professor of management who was a member of the SMPRCC.

Two UR students published separate accounts detailing the mishandling of their Title IX cases on HuffPost’s contributor network in September 2016. 

“I’d say that I am very pleased to see a strong evident emphasis on student outreach and education programs," Thompson said. "That’s really where prevention starts. I am thrilled to see that not only was the deputy Title IX coordinator implemented, along with the education component, but the university has invested in more resources to support the programs, to support the staff that they hire to do the things that they need to do.”

In-person Title IX training is required for all new employees, faculty and staff, according to the SMPRCC Final Report. 

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter

The Title IX office has partnered with deans of all five UR colleges to encourage all faculty to complete online Sexual Harassment Prevention training, according to the SMPRCC Final Report. Sexual Harassment Prevention training is currently required for all staff, according to the report. 

The PAC recommended UR consider dedicating an additional full-time position to prevention and education, according to the SMPRCC Final Report. This recommendation has been referred to Kaylin Tingle, UR's sexual misconduct prevention educator, for consideration. Strategic Planning will determine what additional staffing needs are necessary, according to the report.

“The biggest challenge was trying to make sure that we were able to talk to every stakeholder that we could,” Thompson said. “There seemed like there were different segments on campus. Some were very vocal. Others, not as much so. 

“[The SMPRCC] had people who were very actively engaged — trying to make sure they touched in with athletics, with Greek life, with minority students on campus, with foreign students on campus and trying to make sure all voices were heard. That took some effort.”

Thompson said the SMPRCC was just a first step.

“I think the theme behind all of these committees is that we’re not done,” Thompson said. “We say ‘OK. We did all of this work. Let’s look at the trend.’ What difference are we actually making?” 

A copy of the SMPRCC’s Final Report was given to the Audit and Compliance Committee of the UR Board of Trustees, the Faculty Senate and President Crutcher, said Kris Henderson, co-chair of the SMPRCC, director of compliance and Title IX coordinator. 

“The fact of the matter is that we all recognize that there is a cultural issue that has to change. How can we influence that cultural change to happen?” said Kristine Nolin, co-chair of the SMPRCC and associate professor of chemistry. “We have to realize that as our student body diversifies — in experiences, in areas of origin, customs, cultures — everybody’s level of understanding is at such a different level, from what is consent to what is a healthy relationship.”

The PAC recommended evaluating whether to provide student access to on-campus counseling services year-round. The SMPRCC referred the recommendation for consideration, noting that staffing and hours of operation will be considered as part of the larger review of health services delivery on campus, according to the report.

The Interpersonal Wellness and Advisory Committee (IWAC), which is a part of CARE, will continue SMPRCC’s work, Henderson said. The IWAC will meet on a quarterly basis and will be composed of students, faculty and staff, she said.

Confidential on-campus resources for survivors of sexual violence include Counseling and Psychological Services, Peer Sexual Misconduct Advisors (psma@richmond.edu), the Office of the Chaplaincy and the Student Health Center. Safe Harbor Advocate is a confidential off-campus resource. 

Non-confidential resources are the university police, the Title IX office, the Westhampton College and Richmond College deans’ offices and the Office of Common Ground. 

Contact editor-in-chief Olivia Diaz at olivia.diaz@richmond.edu.

Support independent student media

You can make a tax-deductible donation by clicking the button below, which takes you to our secure PayPal account. The page is set up to receive contributions in whatever amount you designate. We look forward to using the money we raise to further our mission of providing honest and accurate information to students, faculty, staff, alumni and others in the general public.

Donate Now