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Amplifying Voices of Our Community's Core: Students

Health, Safety, and Well-being Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice Campus Safety and Violence Prevention Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice Division Health, Safety, and Well-being Initiatives Sexual and Relationship Violence Prevention, Education, and Response AVP or "Number Two" Senior Level VP for Student Affairs
October 4, 2019 Tanya Jachimiak

In this series, we highlight the tools and programs provided by Culture of Respect to help higher education end campus sexual violence. 

Over the past year, students have witnessed the Kavanaugh hearings, the conviction of sexual abuser Larry Nassar, the rollback of Dear Colleague Letters, and the Department of Education’s sweeping proposed changes to the Title IX regulations, all the while tweeting about the #MeToo movement. While those of us working in the field of preventing and responding to sexual misconduct have been aware of its prevalence on campuses across the country, the wide-spread coverage across many types of media created waves of increased awareness about sexual misconduct and, on some campuses, increased reporting.  

Wake Forest students held a rally to show support for survivors and reached out to campus officials to gain more knowledge about our processes. Students have contacted the Title IX Office and other offices requesting to be involved in awareness and prevention efforts, and seeking information about processes for reporting and receiving support. These actions sent a clear message: let us help. 

Those of us involved with sexual misconduct prevention and response work on campuses are on the ground with these students. It is our responsibility to include them in the process of shaping their campus culture; to elevate their voices in the critical discussions around policy, prevention, and response; and to ensure that their experience and perspective inform the work we are doing on campus. Thankfully, there are structures to help ensure this elevation happens. 

As part of Wake Forest’s ongoing commitment to addressing sexual harassment and misconduct on campus, Wake Forest has utilized Culture of Respect’s tools and framework. As the wave of requests for more involvement came in, we were able to direct students to the Culture of Respect pillar committees (e.g., Survivor Support; Policy; Multitiered Education). The pillar committees provided structured opportunities to include the students’ diverse, passionate voices as well as directly to connect students to other campus stakeholders. Dialogues occurred between faculty, staff, and students who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to speak and hear about issues of sexual misconduct. The dialogues that occur through the pillar committees assist with conducting an ongoing self-assessment of our work and ensuring that we are developing programs that are meaningful and grounded in current best practices.

As the news from the Department of Education continues to unfold -- with the possibility of new Title IX regulations this fall -- and our society continues to wrestle with the aftershocks of the innumerable public disclosures, we must continue to ensure that all students’ voices and experiences are reflected in conversations and meaningfully included in decision-making processes. This is the only way to ensure fair, informed policies and practices.

Culture of Respect supports institutions of higher education in all aspects of preventing and responding to campus sexual violence. Apply now for the fourth cohort of the Collective and join more than 100 colleges and universities in fostering a Culture of Respect.   

Tanya Jachimiak, JD is the Director of Wake Forest University’s Title IX Office and Title IX Coordinator. Prior to joining Wake Forest in 2014, Tanya served as the Executive Associate Director of the Office for Access and Equity at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Tanya has developed and implemented comprehensive compliance programs under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Violence Against Women Act of 1994, Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 at multiple campuses in both North Carolina and Illinois. Earlier in her legal career, Tanya practiced employment discrimination law, spending over a decade representing both plaintiffs and defendants in individual cases as well as class action litigation. Tanya obtained her Juris Doctor from the DePaul University College of Law in 1998 and is licensed to practice law in Illinois.