Starting this fall, CU Boulder will launch a new initiative to expand the reach of existing campus sexual misconduct prevention and education efforts through a new sexual misconduct task force.
The CU Boulder Sexual Misconduct Task Force will craft specific actions aimed at reducing the factors that create community risk and enhance protective factors to prevent harassment and violence. Action items will include evidence-based strategies to reduce prevalence of sexual misconduct in the campus community, such as improving practices in the campus community’s social and living environments and enhancing the connection students have to one another through their academic endeavors.
Sept. 6: Campus to release sexual misconduct survey results
Sept. 26: 4 to 5:30 p.m.—Campus sexual misconduct town hall
The task force was commissioned by campus leadership over the summer and will be led by the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance (OIEC) and the Office of Victim Assistance (OVA).
Sexual misconduct is a society-wide problem that disproportinately impacts young adults, including students at CU Boulder, according to Llen Pomeroy, associate vice chancellor of OIEC and Title IX coordinator. It is critical to continue to enhance the campus’s approach to prevention in order to reduce the effects on CU Boulder’s campus community.
“The task force will enable us to use our latest data to implement practices that help prevent sexual misconduct and mitigate its impacts in our community,” Pomeroy said. “While rates are not necessarily better or worse at CU Boulder than at other universities, we do have tools to strategically innovate how we prevent the problem.”
The task force will gather expertise from across campus, including Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, the CU Boulder Police Department (CUPD) and Strategic Resources and Support. Bringing different campus units together is important, Pomeroy said, because an integrated and comprehensive approach is essential to preventing misconduct.
“In order to address sexual misconduct most effectively, we all have to work together,” Pomeroy said.
The task force will begin its work by reviewing last fall’s sexual misconduct survey results, which are due to be released on Sept. 6.
The task force will then recommend prevention practices to be implemented across campus to reduce the prevalence of sexual misconduct and mitigate its impacts on our campus community.
The announcement comes at a time when sexual misconduct issues are top of mind for the campus, following a report of a sexual assault on Aug. 17.
As a part of the campus’s focus on preventing sexual misconduct, OIEC and OVA will also host a Campus Sexual Misconduct Town Hall from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 26 in the UMC, Room 235. A virtual option will be available. The event will cover the recently released sexual misconduct survey results, the new CU Boulder Sexual Misconduct Task Force and answer questions about how sexual misconduct is addressed in the campus community.
The task force will periodically update campus as the group’s work progresses.
Understanding how sexual misconduct is addressed at CU Boulder
What is "sexual misconduct?"
“Sexual misconduct” is the term university policy uses to address behaviors, including sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, sexual exploitation and sexual harassment.
All of those behaviors are prohibited, and it is important to know that people who are impacted have access to free and confidential campus resources and resolution options available to them. Learn more under sexual misconduct response and resources below.
How to help
People being accountable to each other and looking out for others are key components for preventing sexual misconduct, according to research OIEC has conducted. Here are some evidence-informed strategies that help people do that effectively:
Utilize the “buddy system.”
Review Health & Wellness’s 5 things to know about sexual assault.
Bookmark CU Boulder’s Don’t Ignore It page for reporting options, how to offer support to someone who has experienced a traumatic event and tips on being an effective bystander.
Teresa Wroe, OIEC’s assistant vice chancellor of prevention education, said her office is often asked why prevention efforts do not exclusively focus on people who commit acts of sexual misconduct.
“Research is clear that education in college that focuses on people as potential victims or potential perpetrators is ineffective,” said Wroe. “Instead, we emphasize that we all have the potential to prevent these problems by being effective bystanders, looking out for each other and changing misconceptions about relationships, sex and consent.”
Sexual misconduct response and resources
Reporting sexual misconduct
If a victim or survivor chooses to report sexual misconduct, whether or not they choose to report to law enforcement, OIEC will conduct an initial inquiry, which includes working to provide support and safety measures, such as changes to academic, living, transportation and working situations. OIEC will also provide information on all university resolution options including the right to participate in a formal investigation process under the university’s Sexual Misconduct, Intimate Partner Violence and Stalking Policy. Student sexual misconduct cases are separate from the criminal process. Reports can be made to CUPD at any time, though investigators recommend reporting as soon as you are comfortable doing so.
“While the university cannot discuss specific incidents due to privacy laws, our community should know that we take allegations of sexual misconduct seriously, and those found responsible are held accountable,” Pomeroy said.
People can react to crimes and traumatic experiences differently, and there are many reasons why someone may choose to not report sexual misconduct. Whether or not someone chooses to report misconduct, campus resources are available to those who are impacted.
OVA provides free, confidential trauma-focused counseling, advocacy and support to individuals who have experienced a potentially traumatic or life disruptive event. They are also a resource for witnesses and secondary survivors.
Those impacted can also explore OIEC support and resources, which include campus and community resources for accessing counseling, medical and legal services, as well as information on safety measures like protective orders and other support.
What to know about the law
There are state and federal criminal laws prohibiting sexual assault, harassment and other misconduct, which are enforced by police. Additionally, the federal law known as Title IX specifically governs how sexual misconduct is addressed by educational institutions, including CU Boulder.
Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex and ensures equal access to education.
The US Department of Education announced new proposed rules for Title IX enforcement in June, opening a public comment period. As the regulations move toward publication, the CU system will lead CU’s four campuses in assessing how existing policies might need to change to conform to the new rules.