Statement of President Steve Bahls Regarding Sexual Assault and Augustana’s Title IX Practices
January 31, 2018
During these past days and weeks, important — and at times painful — conversations about sexual assault have been held across the Augustana campus. As difficult as these conversations may be, I know that the personal accounts our students have shared will help us to strengthen our culture, policies and procedures, programming and supports, and overall environment on our campus.
Across the country, and here at Augustana, students are helping to raise awareness of the important topic of sexual assault. They are being heard and their experiences must inform how we respond. More specifically, I have heard you and I am directing the college to respond.
Augustana’s Title IX team is constantly reviewing our policies and procedures to ensure they reflect the latest guidance from the U.S. Department of Education and the needs of our campus. We are making use of what we hear is working for our peer institutions, and we are aligning our efforts with state and federal laws. However, we all benefit from regular review and input from our community on how well we are achieving our goals.
To that end:
• I will seek nominations from student leadership and the faculty for membership on a task force that will report directly to me. This group will continue to meet until I am satisfied that Augustana is addressing the culture and safety on campus and is implementing fair processes.
• I am ordering a review by outside experts of our policies concerning sexual assault prevention, adjudication of sexual assault complaints, disclosure policies and support of victims of assault. The charge to the outside expert will be to review Augustana’s policies against national best practices and to advise the task force and me as to next steps in improving our policies and our actions.
• I am ordering a review of how and when the campus issues timely notifications regarding student safety with a particular focus on Title IX.
• To assist the task force, the college will hire a student safety and wellness coordinator to work with our entire community to ensure effective implementation of best practices.
• I am asking our students, faculty and staff to share their experiences and suggestions with the task force. Your insights can help Augustana meet our shared goal of making our campus safe for all students.
• I am directing the Office of Communication and Marketing to develop and regularly update the college’s website to outline the efforts of the task force, opportunities for feedback, and next steps for their work.
Augustana College remains committed to the safety and security of our students and our campus, and I am committed to continuing to work with our students, faculty, staff and others in the Augustana community to provide a safe and respectful learning environment. Campus culture can only be shifted if we all work together, and I am committed to partnering with the task force and campus community to meet our shared goals.