Campus officials in Ames, Cedar Falls and Iowa City have posted detailed information on-line so students can find out what to do if they’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted.
That’s just one of the steps taken at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa after questions were raised about the U-of-I’s response to an alleged rape on the Iowa City campus in October of 2007. Two former Hawkeye football players are scheduled to go on trial in the next few months in connection with that alleged assault.
Jonathan Carlson, senior associate to the University of Iowa’s president, says consultants told the universities they needed to improve their websites.
“So we created a ‘Safety and Respect’ page with a button on the homepage of the University of Iowa so that when students click that button — ‘Safety and Respect’ — they’re immediately taken to a web page that provides them with links to various types of information that they need,” Carlson says, “and….gives them…information on how to report situations.”
Dione Sommerville, I.S.U.’s Dean of Students, says there’s now a “Safety” link on Iowa State’s homepage, too.
“So if you scroll toward the middle of our homepage, you’ll see a link for safety and that links students not only to information about sexual misconduct policies, but also other safety-related issues in campus,” Sommerville says. “We also have updated our webpage significantly because students have told us…that they’re not going to read a brochure. They want it on the web. They want it searchable and they want it easy to find.”
Sommerville says they want to ensure students have an understanding of what sexual misconduct is, how to report it and how to prevent it.
“Our goal is that wherever a student turns, that this person can be directed to the appropriate resources,” Sommerville says, “and that can be done in a swift and appropriate and caring way for them.”
Jon Buse, dean of students at the University of Northern Iowa, says the university’s safety website now has a “prominent” link on U.N.I.’s homepage.
“We’ve also revised our existing Violence Intervention Services website which is the department that serves as the central coordinating office for victim services on our campus,” Buse says. “We’ve made a concerted effort to make that website comfortable and appealing to students and we’ve actually involved a significant number of students in that process to ensure that our language is something that they understand, that they will relate to, that they will connect with.”
Buse says it means crucial information is available on-line, 24/7, for students, staff and faculty. Buse, Sommerville and Carlson made this comments this week during testimony at a legislative committee hearing in Des Moines.