Campus & Community

DU reports momentum on Title IX issues, plans events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

The University of Denver is preparing for Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), nationally recognized in the U.S. every April. Since last April’s SAAM, the University has made progress on several fronts to provide a safer, more compassionate campus environment and to more comprehensively support individuals who have expressed concern regarding sexual assault and harassment. Actions taken recently are helping to create an equitable campus, continually improve University policies and practices related to prevention and education, and provide more accessible ways for members of the DU community to report instances of misconduct or violence and receive the support they need.

Jean McAllister became DU’s full-time Title IX coordinator in June 2015, joining a Title IX office that includes two full-time civil rights investigators. Since that time, the team has clarified the office’s leadership and strengthened its partnerships with the larger Title IX team at DU that provides direct response to sexual and gender violence. This larger team includes the Center for Advocacy, Prevention, and Empowerment (CAPE), which among other functions supports victims of sexual violence and offers programming around prevention and bystander intervention.

“The priority now is to build a gender-equitable campus by addressing inequities across the board, including gender-based discrimination, harassment and violence,” McAllister says. “In response to concerns expressed by community members — especially the many dedicated students who have spoken with us directly — we have established consistent language, uniform Title IX procedures and tighter time frames in our investigation process, and we have strengthened our ability to respond to concerns of retaliation.”

In addition, McAllister notes that the Title IX office has addressed inequity in the appeals process for students. Previously, individuals who experienced unwanted sexual contact could appeal only to the Title IX coordinator, while those accused of committing the act could appeal to vice chancellors or the provost, she said. In student cases, both parties now have the right to appeal to a vice chancellor.

Having dedicated staff to help guide efforts across campus is critical, McAllister says. “We have a massive task in front of us; we’re constantly evaluating and revising based on what we hear from the community on what’s working and what’s not.”

McAllister says one result of DU’s efforts is that the University is beginning to see victims coming forward to report incidents of sexual assault that occurred months or more in the past. She called this an important indication of the growing trust in DU systems.

“We encourage conversation and dialogue about sexual assault prevention, education and compassionate support,” she says. “Breaking the culture of silence requires a willingness to engage the community and speak openly about these issues.”

Initiatives such as Sexual Assault Awareness Month provide the community-engagement opportunities DU needs to continue this important work. The programming for SAAM is being led and supported by the staff of CAPE, a department of the Health and Counseling Center, with collaboration from the Title IX office and additional support from the Gender and Women’s Studies department, the Center for Multicultural Excellence, Undergraduate Women’s Council, Undergraduate Student Government, DU Programming Board, Undergraduate Queer Straight Alliance, and the Student Coalition for the Eradication of Sexual Assault.


Here are some of the Sexual Assault Awareness Month events being held on campus:


The Clothesline Project: T-shirts displayed throughout the month of April at Anderson Academic Commons. The Clothesline Project began as a vehicle for women affected by violence to express their emotions by decorating a T-shirt. The shirt is then hung on a clothesline to be viewed by others as testimony to the problem of violence against women. Today, Clothesline Projects provide awareness about sexual and intimate partner violence, hate crimes and child abuse. Survivors and friends of survivors may design and decorate a T-shirt to be displayed during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.


SAAM Summit: Thursday–Friday, April 7–8. The annual Sexual Assault Awareness Month Summit is a collaborative effort between various DU departments and organizations on campus. The summit begins with a keynote performance on Thursday, April 7, by Andrea Gibson. Gibson is a genderqueer spoken-word poet who tours around the country performing around issues of gender, sexuality, gender violence, mental health and white privilege.


“The Hunting Ground” film screening: Tuesday, April 12. “The Hunting Ground” is a documentary film about the incidents of sexual assault on college campuses in the United States. This event is sponsored by SCESA, Student Coalition to Eradicate Sexual Assault.


Campus Visit — Sofie Karasek: Tuesday, April 19. Karasek is an anti-sexual violence activist and a co-founder of End Rape on Campus. Prior to her graduation from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2015, she spearheaded several federal complaints against Berkeley and has assisted students nationwide in holding universities accountable to Title IX. Karasek has also been a leading advocate for California’s groundbreaking affirmative consent law and is a subject in the documentary film “The Hunting Ground.” This event is sponsored by SCESA, Student Coalition to Eradicate Sexual Assault.


Consent Carnival: Thursday, April 21. The Consent Carnival is a fun event that includes snacks, prizes, entertainment and music. Games and activities will focus on educating the campus community on the importance of obtaining consent in the context of intimate relations and help students learn and practice both how to ask for and to give consent in their relationships.


Denim Day at DU (featuring Capture the Flag tournament): Wednesday, April 27. Denim Day is an international protest responding to the Italian Supreme Court’s overruling of a rape conviction in 1999. An Italian woman was raped, and when the case went to trial, the jury found her assailant guilty. The Italian Supreme Court then overturned the ruling, saying that jeans are too difficult to remove and the assailant could not have done so without the victim’s help. To honor Denim Day, the DU community is invited to wear jeans to work or school in order to promote awareness. CAPE will provide Denim Day stickers with informational cards about the event. In addition, DU will host a Capture the Flag tournament during which community members can join a team as an individual or form their own small groups.


See the SAAM website for more information on events throughout the month.







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