The Chancellor’s Commission for the Prevention of Sexual Misconduct is a team of faculty, staff, and students tasked with identifying, prioritizing, and coordinating the implementation of strategies to reduce the occurrence of sexual misconduct at the University. Relying on the foundational work of the Campus-wide Collaborative on Sexual Misconduct, this Commission will advance initiatives for periodic policy revisions, prevention programming, and refining the institutional response to reports of sexual misconduct.
There is a solid foundation for this effort given the good work of student leaders in ASUN and professionals in Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), Student Advocacy and Support, Institutional Equity and Compliance (IEC), Student Conduct and Community Standards (SCCS), the Center for Advocacy, Response and Education (CARE), University Police Department, Human Resources, Faculty Affairs, Student Affairs, and many others. There is an awareness and recognition on the part of these groups that more is still needed, and with concerted communication and effort UNL can meaningfully act to reduce the harm sexual misconduct inflicts on our community.
The Collaborative’s Report has mapped out some clear starting points for the Commission. Your efforts should be guided by the best information, research, and data. To that end, the Commission should prioritize the collection of data regarding the campus climate as it pertains to perspectives about sexual misconduct and campus safety. There are several survey instruments in existence that have been used by peer institutions. The Collaborative also made recommendations with respect to available instruments, and I would like the Commission to reach agreement on an instrument and administer it in the Spring of 2022.
Additionally, it is evident to university leadership that more needs to be done to coordinate the individual efforts of various departments on campus and in relation to agencies within the larger Lincoln community. I advise the Commission to give immediate attention to creating a framework for coordination by updating, or in some cases establishing, memoranda of agreement/understanding. These documents will clarify expectations of cross-departmental interactions regarding information sharing, record-keeping, decision-making, and accountability. Thoughtful attention will need to be given to existing structures such as the Threat Assessment Team, Behavioral Intervention Team, Campus Climate Support Network, and others.
We must do more to educate our community about how each person can contribute to a safer campus. The President’s Executive Memorandum 44 sets aggressive goals, many of which are consistent with the Collaborative’s recommendations, to enhance education about sexual misconduct. This education will need to be comprehensive – tackling subjects around sexual health, relationship health, communicating consent, intervening in situations that place people at risk, among others – and tailored to the needs of unique populations (e.g., Fraternity/Sorority, Athletes, International Students/Scholars, LGBTQA+ community, neurodiverse individuals, etc.). This Commission should lead on determining the content and scope of training. It should consult with departments that could collaborate in delivering that content and determine the resources that are needed to sustain it over time. I hope you’ll leverage some existing tools such as the new learning management system for extracurricular programs (Bridge LMS). You can also supplement the required training that campus community members must complete annually (Catharsis – U Got This! U Got This 2! and Report = Support).
Finally, attend to the response we provide to those who experience sexual misconduct. We have made a commitment to train civil rights investigators in trauma-informed techniques and there is interest from the University police to do likewise. There are opportunities to update web content, utilize multimedia to convey information rather than relying on printed materials alone, and communicate and clarify responsibilities around reporting. There are drafts of syllabus language under review by the faculty senate However, you should look for other ways to communicate information, publicize reporting options, and communicate an ethos of care.
I will leave it to the Commission to determine how often it will need to meet to achieve these broad objectives. Status updates and reports will be important to keep the Chancellor’s Office and Executive Leadership Team informed of progress and barriers that may be encountered. I anticipate meeting with the Chair of the Commission towards the end of each term. In the interim, a monthly email recapping progress can be provided to the University’s Chief of Staff – Michael Zeleny. If you believe there need to be policy adjustments, those may need to be reviewed and approved by colleagues at Varner Hall. Working with Mike to schedule a path to adoption will be important, and he can advise on those campus constituents who may need to share input as well.
The work you will commence this semester is of great importance. I have confidence that this group can make a positive difference in how our students, staff, and faculty experience campus life.