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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Dec. 12, 2008

Regents approve student sexual misconduct policies

by Anne Krapfl

The state Board of Regents unanimously approved student-focused sexual misconduct polices for all the regent institutions Dec. 11, although several members said they still are hoping for essentially one policy for the three universities. The Iowa School for the Deaf and Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School collaborated on a single policy, given the younger ages of their students.

Iowa State's policy received praise from several regents for its clarity, user-friendliness and a section on confidentiality that reminds students of the types of professionals who can and cannot guarantee confidentiality of conversations with them.

Last summer, the board directed regent schools to develop the policies in response to criticism of the University of Iowa's handling of an alleged sexual assault on campus in October 2007. The board requested a fast-track process of about three months that was coordinated by a University of Iowa faculty member and an outside consultant.

Iowa State's policy is not a new policy, but rather a one-stop source of information and resources. Students formerly were protected under ISU's Violence Free Campus Policy.

Highlights of the ISU policy include:

  • Clear definitions of: unwanted behaviors, the term "consent" and persons not in a position to give consent to sexual activity
  • The Dean of Students office as the single point of contact for victims (students also are urged to contact the department of public safety when a crime has been committed)
  • Continuation of ISU's practice of having no option for informal resolution (i.e. trained professionals must be involved every step of the way)

The policy is online in ISU's policy library, in the "student life" section of the library (see "conduct and ethics").

Board president David Miles said the policies are effective immediately, although representatives of the three universities outlined an extensive implementation process. Dean of students Dione Somerville said at Iowa State, that will include: making corresponding changes to other university policies, creating a student web site that references all related information, updating office protocols for the responsible units identified in the policy, and developing ongoing training on the content of the policy for students, staff and faculty. Those tasks could take several months.

The regents also accepted the consultants' recommendation that in six to 12 months, a small team of university representatives complete an audit to measure the effectiveness of both the policies and their early implementation.

FY09 budget

President Gregory Geoffroy reported to the board that Iowa State will cut $2.91 million from the current budget by postponing lab renovations, equipment purchases and deferred maintenance projects. He said the funds will come centrally from the provost's office. Gov. Chet Culver directed the three regent universities to cut a collective $7 million from this year's budgets as part of state-wide cuts. Iowa State's portion of that is $2.91 million.

"These are items that help with faculty retention and faculty hires, and impact the quality of our instruction programs, but we feel it is prudent at this time to meet the cut this way."

Geoffroy said he knows more cuts are likely, but expressed confidence in the Resource Management Model to "provide incredibly powerful incentives to deans and directors to control costs, pursue efficiencies, pursue energy savings and encourage programs that generate revenues."

Police report

Department of public safety director Jerry Stewart provided the board an update on campus security. It has been just over a year (October 2007) since the board approved new safety and security policies for the regent schools. Highlights of his report include:

  • The ISU Alert emergency communication system has been tested twice and actually used twice.
  • An emergency web homepage has been developed. It would overwrite ISU's homepage during a crisis (loads quickly and could accommodate a large number of visitors at one time).
  • Progress continues on converting door locks to electronic security systems (currently up to 332 exterior doors, 545 interior doors and 521 monitor points).
  • ISU police have given 36 presentations to faculty and staff on topics such as workplace violence, threat assessment and dealing with difficult people.
  • No officer has discharged his or her firearm except for training purposes.
  • Demand for safety escort service has increased in the last two years, from 1,832 escort calls in 2006 to 3,530 so far in 2008.
  • Police officers have issued two citations and approximately 40 warnings to campus visitors (football fans, construction workers, delivery drivers) about the no-smoking policy.

Land gift

The board gave Iowa State permission to accept a 76-acre gift from alumnus Everett Casey ('46, Engineering) who lives in suburban Detroit. The gift is to the English department for use by its 3-year-old Master in Fine Arts in creative writing and environment. The land, in Boone County north of Ogden, is mostly wooded and undeveloped. Bluff Creek meanders through the property. The cash rent from 15 tillable acres initially will support educational activities and likely later be planted as prairie.

"We're very fortunate to have this gift," said Stephen Pett, associate professor of English and coordinator of the program. "It will be the centerpiece of the program."

He called the property a "field station" where students will go to observe and write. The intent is to keep it wild. A classroom structure could be added some day, if funding becomes available, to make the property a year-round option, he said. Conversations already have begun about interdisciplinary work with the biological sciences and landscape architecture.