Boston College -

Report of the
Task Force on Sexual
February 2014
• University Mission: Our Guidepost
• Key Issues Regarding Sexual Assault at Francis
• Task Force Recommendations
University Mission: Our Guidepost
In order to make an effective university-wide plan
for sexual violence response and prevention, it
must be integrated into the overall mission of
Francis University:
“Francis University seeks to form its students to be
loving and wise by providing an education rooted in
the Catholic tradition and critically engaging the
modern world.”
“Francis University seeks to form its
students to be loving and wise”
• Our policies and actions need to be informed
by an ethic of loving, whether dealing with
victims, bystanders, or the accused.
• Our fundamental mission is to educate
students for life, so that they are not only
prepared for their careers, but capable of
exercising wisdom and good decision-making.
“Rooted in the Catholic tradition”
How does the Catholic tradition approach sexual violence?
• Dignity of the Human Person
– All humans possess a special dignity by virtue of their
being made in the image and likeness of God (Gaudium et
Spes, 12).
– This dignity can be violated, but never taken away.
• Justice
– As a community, we have a moral and religious obligation
to protect the vulnerable and act for justice.
– “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine,
you did for me.” (Mt. 25:6)
– Who are the “least” among us? Who remain suffering and
“Rooted in the Catholic tradition”
How does the Catholic tradition approach sexual violence?
• St. Augustine on the Rape of Lucretia (The City of God)
– Augustine writes against pagan culture, which encouraged
suicide for rape victims, in a context where many Roman
women had been sexually assaulted during an invasion.
– The victim must not be blamed, and must be valued on
account of their undeniable worth as a person.
– All possible support must be given to prevent further
harm, including self-harm.
“Critically engaging the modern world”
• We have an obligation to remain engaged and
informed about critical issues, including sexual
violence, which plagues institutions
• Are we being a prophetic voice? Do we hold
ourselves and the greater culture
Key Issues Surrounding
Sexual Assault
On Our Campus
Unclear Definitions
Students and staff should be aware of key terms and
issues. Some of the most important terms:
• Sexual Violence: Physical sexual acts perpetrated
against a person’s will or where a person is incapable
of giving consent. 1
• Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome conduct of a sexual
nature. Includes sexual advances, requests for sexual
favors, other verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct
of a sexual nature. Includes all forms of sexual
Unclear Definitions (ctd.)
Students and staff should be keenly aware of the concept of Consent.
• Must be freely given
• No physical or verbal coercion, social pressure, or power disparity
• By both parties, who are physically and mentally capable of giving
– Not under the influence of alcohol or drugs
• Explicitly given: the absence of a “no” is not a “yes.”
• May be withdrawn at any point or limited to certain actions.
– Consent to x doesn’t mean consent to y.
– “Yes” today doesn’t mean “Yes” tomorrow.
Commonality of Myths about Sexual Violence
• “It’s their fault for doing ____ or wearing ____”
• Statistically, men are significantly more likely to
be perpetrators and women to be victims, but
men can be victims, women can be perpetrators,
and same-sex sexual violence does occur.
• Consent-related issues (alcohol, “assumed
consent,” limited consent)
• Most assaults are committed by acquaintances,
not strangers.
Insufficient Integration of Existing Literature
• Sexual misconduct results from the convergence
of three factors:2
– The choice of a perpetrator
• May be for satisfaction of a desire or for power/dominance
– A general culture which promotes or allows
inappropriate actions and speech.
• Party culture, hook-up culture, the objectification of women
– Particular settings which facilitate sexual misconduct
• Off-campus house parties, especially Greek life, co-ed
residence halls, the presence of alcohol
Task Force
We propose that St. Francis undertake a threepronged approach rooted in University mission in
order to address sexual violence on campus:
a) Transform Campus Culture
b) Establish Appropriate Policies & Procedures
c) Prepare Resources for Responding to Crisis
(a) Transform Campus Culture
St. Francis culture should reflect our university mission
through student willingness to love and protect one
another. We will support this culture by implementing a
University-wide awareness campaign called
This campaign will be integrated into campus activities
for two primary purposes:
1. Promote Healthy, Positive Choices
2. Train Students About the Issues
• The Office of the Dean of Students will be responsible for
overseeing this initiative.
• As part of a wider program focused on service and student
formation, #Francis4Others branding will be used across
platforms (within programming, educational resources, and
social media) to remind students to look out for one another,
especially at high-risk times.
• This campaign integrates our University Mission into every
aspect of its use.
Use of #Francis4Others
• T-Shirts:
– Distribute T-Shirts at #Francis4Other events (such as
educational workshops sponsored by the Dean of Students),
Orientation, Women’s Center, etc. Provide to staff as well.
Designate a Friday each month as “#Francis4Others Friday”
and offer prizes to those in their tshirts.
• Twitter Program:
– Each Saturday, provide prize incentives for students to Tweet
with the #Francis4Others hashtag and a message of how
they will concretely embody the university’s mission through
their actions that day.
#Francis4Others Objective 1:
Promote Healthier, Positive Choices
• Foster respectful relationships & dating culture
• Invite Kerry Cronin to speak on campus about
“Bringing Back the Date.”
• Partner with local community and find nighttime and
weekend activities that will appeal to more students and
take social focus away from riskier behaviors.
• Provide better opportunities for interaction between
men and women and for relationship-building
• An on campus late-night venue, and more
comfortable, safe, and accessible lounge spaces
outside of residence halls.
#Francis4Others Objective 1:
Promote Healthier, Positive Choices (ctd.)
• Sexual Violence Awareness campaign early in
the academic year.
– Early interventions may help more vulnerable
students, including first-years and transfer
students, who may engage in binge drinking &
enter risky situations as they attempt to integrate
– Using #Francis4Others branding, offer workshops,
information sessions, and outreach events to
#Francis4Others Objective 2:
Educate Students
• Orientation:
– Provide materials and explicitly mention how to
access resources, in the context of explaining other
physical & mental health resources.
– Distribute #Francis4Others tshirts.
– Educate new students! Dispel myths and clarify
definitions of key concepts such as consent.
• Train Residence Life and Campus Ministry staff
– Educate them on potential risk factors and signs of
sexual assault, and to be able to intervene and
provide initial support when they have become aware
of an incident.
#Francis4Others Objective 1:
Educate Students
• Bystander Intervention Training
– Involve high-status students (student leaders,
upperclassmen, athletes) to educate peers
– Empowers men as allies and promotes positive views of
• Design Francis University Smartphone App with easily
accessed resources about sexual assault.
– By adding these resources to a commonly-accessed and
widely downloaded app (with information on what food is
in the dining hall, whether classes are cancelled because of
snow, etc.), students may read it out of curiosity on their
own time, and will have the information on hand in case of
an emergency
(2) Establish Appropriate Policies
and Procedures
What actions can victims take against perpetrators?
- Victims can choose to report assaults to their university
This is separate from bringing legal charges against an attacker
Disciplinary action is pursued by the university after an investigation
- Victims can report assaults to local police and pursue legal
The Violence Against Women Act provides funding for investigation and
prosecution of violent crimes against women and offers guidelines for
appropriate sentences4
What are the legal obligations of Francis University?
- Title IX
Overarching purpose is to prevent discrimination on the basis of sex in
an educational setting
Mandates that all reported sexual assaults must be investigated within
60 days, even if a victim chooses to remain anonymous
All instances of sexual misconduct must be reported to government
officials; the Clery Act mandates this as well1
- Dear Colleague Letter
Sets guidelines for investigating incidents of sexual assault
Dictates that an accused student can be found guilty if there is a
greater than 50% chance that he or she
committed the assault1
It is essential to protect the rights of the accused:
- Every effort should be made to ensure that an accused student
has full access to education until he/she is found guilty
- Confidentiality must be maintained during and after an
- “Preponderance of Evidence” standard to find a student guilty
is much lower than the standard used in court
Students must be given a fair hearing process and the chance to defend
themselves against allegations
In cases where dismissal from the University is possible, students
should be allowed to seek legal counsel
(3) Prepare Resources to Respond
to Crisis
(a) Know and coordinate amongst all on-campus support services
for victims:
– Francis already has a Counseling Center, Women’s Resource
Center, Health Center, Campus Police, & Campus Ministry
– Representatives from these offices should meet regularly with
Title IX Coordinator and Dean of Students to review resources
available, communicate news & updates, and coordinate
outreach efforts
– Counseling Center should coordinate training for faculty and
staff (see next slide)
(b)Train all faculty and administrative/professional staff
to respond to crisis:
– Unplanned disclosures by victims to staff/faculty
(even a year later) are a common occurrence6
– Staff should be proficient in basic helping skills while
knowing personal limitations (when to refer to
– Staff should participate in annual workshops offered
by Counseling Center (see next slide for details)
– As members of our community, proactively engage
staff in #Francis4Others via Twitter campaign,
events, roundtables, and t-shirt days
Sample Outline for Staff Training:
• Introduction
– Review Institutional Mission
– Introduce #Francis4Others Campaign
– Explain Purpose of This Training & Relevance to ALL faculty &
administrative/professional staff
• Basic Helping Skills
Common Coping Trajectory
Acknowledging Situational Specifics (Victim’s age, ethnicity, race, etc.)
Knowing Personal Limitations (When to refer to counselor)
Following up with student
• Resources Available to Survivors
– How to refer resources while respecting autonomy
• Reporting to Title IX Coordinator
• Conclusion: #Francis4Others & our vision for Francis University
(c) Know & partner with community resources:
– Because of our location in a metro region, numerous
local resources for survivors of sexual assault already
exist in our community
– We should reach out to these resources to gather
information to offer to students (via our website,
pamphlets in Counseling Center, etc.), as well as learn
when we can refer students to them
– Involve these resources in #Francis4Others campaign so
that their names are recognized on campus;
• We want students to feel comfortable reaching out to a
community partner
Office of Civil Rights. (2012). Title IX and sex discrimination. Department of
Education. Retrieved from
Armstrong, E. A., Hamilton, L., & Sweeney, B. (2006). Sexual Assault on Campus: A
Multilevel, Integrative Approach to Party Rape. Social
Problems, 53(4), 483–499.
Banyard, V. L., Moynihan, M. M., & Plante, E. G. (2007). Sexual violence prevention through
bystander education: An experimental evaluation. Journal of Community Psychology, 35(4),
Whitehouse. (n.d.). Factsheet: The Violence Against Women Act. U.S. Whitehouse. Retrieved
Lauerman, J. (2013). College men accused of sexual assault say their rights violated.
Bloomberg. Retrieved from
Caldwell, R., Wilson, N. L., Harper, R. (2010). Sexual Assault. In R. Harper, N. L. Wilson, &
Associates (Eds.), More than listening (pp. 47-84). NASPA.

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