MORGANTOWN, W.Va – A full assessment along with targeted organizational changes are the goals of a new two-year program at West Virginia University focused on improving the reporting of sexual violence on campus and, ultimately, preventing it.
WVU has joined 20 colleges and universities in the North American Student Affairs Administrators Culture of Respect Collective which guides members through a process of engaging leaders and implementing effective prevention education programs.
“We continue to look for new ways to improve procedures, effectively investigate complaints, hold appropriate disciplinary proceedings, and provide adequate sanctions for violations of policy,” said James Goins, Jr., WVU’s Director of Equity Assurance and Title IX Coordinator in the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “Joining the Culture of Respect Collective gives WVU an opportunity to evaluate ourselves and continue our efforts to use best practice to improve our efforts.”
The division’s prevention education team has assembled a “Campus Leadership Team,” composed of leaders and partners from across campus who are committed to eliminating sex and gender-based violence and harassment at WVU.
The team has representatives from Title IX, University Police, Housing, Student Conduct, Student Government Association, Athletics, Student Engagement, WellWVU, Center for Fraternal Values and Leadership, the LGBTQ+ Center, University Relations/Enrollment Management, Diversity Outreach and Community Engagement, Peer Advocate Program, graduate students, faculty among others. These key stakeholders, including students, faculty and staff, will assist with the Culture of Respect Collective’s assessment of WVU’s prevention, awareness and educational activities to establish a baseline of WVU’s work in this area.
“The more people are on the same page and moving in the same direction, the more effective WVU will be in maintaining a safe campus community, said Amy Kittle, assistant director for Prevention and Education. “WVU has an amazing prevention education team whose efforts will only be amplified when working in concert with leaders from across campus.”
The Campus Leadership Team has met four times this semester and is working initially to evaluate where the University stands in six key areas: survivor support, clear policies, multitiered education, public disclosures, schoolwide mobilization and ongoing assessments. The Team will then set goals and work to address any gaps or areas in need of improvement before once again completing the CORE evaluation to measure growth and to continue identifying areas of improvement to meet the University’s needs.
Kittle noted that colleges and universities that have already gone through the program experienced major growth in prevention and responding to sexual violence on campus.
“We joined the Culture of Respect Collective to be part of a movement of schools working together to address sexual violence nationwide,” Goins said. “Having an established baseline will allow us to easily identify gaps and plan for programming that will be more inclusive and more impactful to our campus community.”