CU Boulder’s Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance (OIEC) and Office of Victim Assistance (OVA), alongside the University of Colorado Boulder Police Department (CUPD), conducted a town hall on campus Monday, Sept. 26, to discuss the results of the 2021 Campus Sexual Misconduct Survey. The event was an opportunity for members of the community to receive a recap of the results, learn what action steps the university is taking in response to this data, and ask questions about sexual misconduct at CU Boulder.
Llen Pomeroy, associate vice chancellor for OIEC and Title IX Coordinator at CU Boulder, kicked off the town hall by remarking that, since the inception of Title IX 50 years ago, we have come a long way as a nation in recognizing that sexual misconduct in all its forms has devastating effects on gender equity in education. “Sexual violence is not just a social problem ‘out there’ in the world, but it is also an educational problem that we must address right here,” Pomeroy said.
“We are going to be looking at this data for the next several years. It will inform how we evolve the survey for the next administration,” said Julie Volckens, director of assessment for OIEC, after the event. “We want to take an approach [to combating sexual misconduct] that is data-informed, that is meaningful, and that really responds to the needs of our campus community.”
The event was also an opportunity to discuss the recently announced CU Boulder Sexual Misconduct Task Force, which was designed to use the results of the survey to make innovative progress on campus prevention efforts.
“This sexual misconduct task force was [created] because…we need this community-wide approach,” said Jessica Ladd-Webert, director of the Office of Victim Assistance at CU Boulder. “We have academic leaders, athletic leaders, student affairs leaders, and Greek leaders addressing this issue more comprehensively.”
The task force will use the results to expand the reach of existing campus sexual misconduct prevention and education efforts.
“We have had, over the years, many other committees and groups addressing this problem,” said Teresa Wroe, assistant vice chancellor of prevention education and deputy Title IX coordinator at CU Boulder. “But, we need a higher level decision-making body that’s looking at some of the literature [and] our data more closely to implement campuswide practices that will help us reach that comprehensive approach.”
The survey, which received more than 10,000 responses, was conducted as part of the fall 2021 Campus Culture Survey. It asked undergraduate and graduate students whether they had experienced non-consensual behaviors, including sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, intimate partner abuse—including dating and domestic violence—and stalking. Students reported lower rates of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Rates of sexual exploitation and intimate partner abuse decreased slightly. There was no change in the stalking rate.
Reporting sexual misconduct and support
The survey reinforced the importance of support resources, as a high percentage of people who experienced sexual assaults said it impacted their mental health, intimate relationships and social relationships.
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.
The university cannot discuss specific incidents due to privacy laws.
Regardless if a victim chooses to report to law enforcement or OIEC, there are confidential and free services through OVA. CU Boulder has a confidential place for members of the campus community to receive trauma-focused counseling and advocacy services, which can include information on rights and options. If someone does choose to pursue reporting processes, OVA can help people engage with OIEC, police, medical or other related systems.