In the first part of this series, we discussed the “Dear Partner” letter, which announced that campus drug abuse programs would be falling under increased scrutiny by the US Department of Education and the Office of National Drug Control Policy. We suggested ways that college and university administrators can step up the drug prevention programs on their campuses. In the second part of this series, we invite you to find out more about how MyStudentBody can help schools respond to another part of these new federal mandates, which was outlined in the recently distributed “Dear Colleague” letter.
Dominican College, in Orangeburg, NY, is a small college in the Catholic tradition serving about 1,800 students with professional programs in teacher education, athletic training, social work, business administration, and the health care professions of nursing and occupational and physical therapy. In addition to over 30 programs of study, the college also has a strong athletic program, sponsoring 12 intercollegiate sports in NCAA Division II.
According to Dominican College’s Prevention and Education Coordinator, Eileen A. Piccininni, MA, LPC, CASAC, CEAP, the “Dear Colleague” letter issued by the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights last April means all US colleges will be looking more uniformly at how they handle sexual assault complaints. The letter, which the White House has declared a “significant guidance document”, reiterated schools’ obligation under Title IX to deal with sexual harassment as unlawful discrimination, and detailed the process by which institutions should respond to sexual assault complaints.
“The ‘Dear Colleague’ letter specifically references issues around sexual violence,” Piccininni says. “Every campus will be reviewing and improving methods for promoting healthy and safe environments through educating students about sexual violence issues.”
Dominican has used MyStudentBody for the past five years as part of its alcohol abuse prevention education, and began using the Essentials course, which covers sexual violence as well as alcohol and drug use, last year. Piccininni finds it an effective tool for Title IX training and documentation. “Proactively, we’ve assigned MyStudentBody Essentials as part of the curriculum for our year-long Freshman Seminar,” she says. “I also use it when I have students who violate the alcohol and other drug policy.”
As part of an educational sanction for students who violate the policy, Piccininni requires completion of either the Essentials Course or the Student Conduct Course. Piccininni has also assigned the sexual violence component of Essentials course to students whose relationships show warning signs of dating violence or potential abuse. “These courses help to increase the culture of respect for self and respect for others, instilling the importance of being an active bystander and of a shared responsibility for the safest and most healthy learning environment possible,” she explains.
And at Dominican, MyStudentBody isn’t just for students. “Every administrator in student services has been asked by our Dean of Students to take and pass the Essentials course,” Piccininni says. “We’ve recommended that faculty and other staff take it as well.”