Professors working to include sexual misconduct policy in syllabi
April 30, 2017
During Dr. Jessica Kratzer’s first year as a professor at NKU, she’s had students disclose personal experiences such as anxiety, depression, and sexual assault.
“I think that I create a warm environment and I really care about my students, and I think that they see that I care about them,” Kratzer said. “It creates an environment for them to say ‘Hey, this is what’s going on with me.’”
Kratzer is one of three professors at Northern Kentucky University in the process of writing a new sexual misconduct policy to include in their syllabi.
The policy was created by Dr. Kratzer, Dr. Caroline Macke, and Dr. Amanda Brown, who are all on the Coordinated Community Response Team.
Kratzer added a rough draft of the new sexual misconduct policy to her syllabi for her communication classes.
* This is the rough copy of the Sexual Misconduct policy. *
Sexual Misconduct Policy & Resources
o What is sexual misconduct? And where can I find the sexual misconduct policy? NKU is committed to fostering a safe and inclusive educational environment free from sexual misconduct — including sexual assault, non-consensual sexual contact, non-consensual sexual intercourse, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, dating and intimate partner violence, relationship and domestic violence, stalking and gender-based bullying. NKU’s sexual misconduct policy can be found at the following website: http://titleix.nku.edu/sexual-misconduct-policy.html.
o Who can I talk to about sexual misconduct and where can I get support? As sexual violence experiences can undermine students’ academic success, we encourage students who have experienced any form of sexual misconduct to talk to someone about their experience in order to receive support/services.
o As an instructor, one of my responsibilities is to help create a safe learning environment on our campus. I also have a mandatory reporting responsibility related to my role as a faculty. I am required to report to the university if a student shares information regarding sexual misconduct or information about a crime that may have occurred on NKU’s campus or with an NKU student.
o To make a non-confidential report of your experience with sexual misconduct, you can contact:
- NKU’s Office of Student Conduct, Rights and Advocacy at 859-572-5147 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Northern Kentucky University’s Police Department at (859) 572-7777 (for emergencies) or 859-572-5500 (for non-emergencies).
o If you would like to talk with someone confidentially about your experiences and about getting support/services, you can contact:
- The Norse Violence Prevention Center at (859)572-5865 or email@example.com. The Norse Violence Prevention Center, which is located in the Student Union, provides a range of services including confidential support, crisis intervention, and academic advocacy.
- NKU’s Health, Counseling and Student Wellness Center at (859) 572-5650
- Women’s Crisis Center’s 24-hour crisis line at 859-491-3335 (KY)
- Women Helping Women’s 24-hour crisis line at 513-381-5610 (OH)
“As a faculty member, putting this in there says I recognize that some of you are dealing with this stuff, or may deal with it, and here are some ways to get help,” said Kratzer.
While creating an accepting and welcoming environment in her classroom, Kratzer has to frequently remind students of the obligation that she has as an employee of NKU.
“Faculty are not confidential people. If someone tells me that they have been assaulted, I am required to report that up the chain, and students don’t know that,” Kratzer said. “I just want you [the students] to know that if it’s related to a certain topic, I have to report it.”
Suicidal thoughts and sexual assault are to be reported up the chain to Ann James (the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for students) and Gabby Dralle (Director of the Norse Violence Prevention Center).
The Norse Violence Prevention Center is a confidential and a non-reporting office and they serve as advocates for the survivors.
Dralle has the ability to remain confidential and she does not have to report the sexual assault to anyone else unless the survivor wants it to be reported.
“Since we’ve opened we have seen a steady increase of students coming to us,” Dralle said. “What I want is for NKU to be a leader in that. I want NKU to be a model university and I think that we are well on our way.”
According to James, a continued education of the reporting process would be beneficial for faculty, staff and students.
“We have come a long way with educating our students about bystander intervention. About how to report and what the resources are,” said James. “Our reporting has gone up which I see as a positive.”
However, James does have students visiting her office for things other than filing reports.
“Some students come in to make a report,” James said. “Some students come in because they have questions about how to make a report, and they aren’t ready to do that yet which is fine.”
As a professor for another class on campus, James said that it might be helpful for other professors to include this new policy in their syllabi, especially if they teach classes that might trigger thoughts and emotions surrounding sexual assault.
“Many times a student will disclose something in class because the moment was there.” said James. “What we don’t want to happen is for a student to disclose something to a faculty member and they [the faculty] don’t know what to do to help the student.”
The new policy would remind students that the professors have to report the incidents, and also where to go if the students need additional help and resources.
Brittany Murphy, a fifth-year student at NKU, noticed the policy in Kratzer’s syllabus and remembers leaning over to her friend in the class and being slightly shocked that Dr. Kratzer was talking about the resources that are on campus.
“Building that connection between classrooms and the offices helps us to know more about them,” Murphy said.
Murphy thinks that it is helpful for the syllabus to have resources listed for sexual assault because not everyone knows who are confidential and where other students can go for help.
“I think that having it in there as an easy access would be beneficial, even if it’s not used until weeks or months after the syllabus is given out,” said Murphy. “I think that’s a good reference point that people can go back to and look at if they need it.”
Thus far, Kratzer has had a positive response from the professors who have read the sexual misconduct policy, as well as positivity from students.
“I think that it creates a nice discussion in class.” Kratzer said. “By not talking about it, it doesn’t help the issue.”