Drake has been under federal investigation by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) since a Title IX complaint for mishandling sexual assaults on campus.
Drake has been under investigation since October 2014, after a student a student filed a complaint with the OCR in regards to a resolution of a sexual assault case.
The investigation can last up to two years, but the university has been cooperative.
“We’re developing new protocols and procedures to make sure we have a best practice approach,” said Alysa Mozak, coordinator for sexual violence response and healthy relationship promotion.
Mozak has been working with new Title IX Coordinator, Kathryn Overberg, who began working at Drake last October. Mozak’s office focuses on prevention and self-care in regards to sexual violence and relationships, while Overberg covers compliance as it pertains to policy and procedure.
One of the first changes made was to revamp Drake’s website to make finding sexual violence resources easier for students.
“It only takes two clicks,” Mozak said.
Overberg created a new one- page resource guide for students that summarizes Drake’s sexual assault policy and lists various resources. It will be available online soon.
In addition, Overberg has been working on creating a new Title IX webpage.
“I’m just trying to brand Title IX, so it doesn’t look like a ‘boring old law.’ There’s so much more to it,” Overberg said. “I want people to understand that Title IX is about prevention — it’s about communication. So the more we talk about it, the less taboo it becomes.”
Another change included getting Mozak’s office a budget. Before, Mozak had no money for prevention programming. Now, she has an annual budget of $5,000, which comes from the provost office.
“If you do more prevention, then hopefully you’ll reduce your amount of incidences,” Mozak said.
Mozak used the OCR investigation as a catalyst to amp up her prevention initiatives. Students used it to demand the kind of changes campus is beginning to see.
Last spring, several students launched Demand a Better Drake (DABD), a campaign advocating for clarity in the code of conduct. The group demanded five changes to how the university handles sexual misconduct. Two of the demands — making the policy easier to find online and providing a budget for Mozak’s office — have been met as part of the proactive changes Drake has been making.
Seniors Rachel Dupree and Emily Callen have been spearheading DABD’s efforts this year, working closely with Overberg. They’re now focusing on educating faculty and student leaders on sexual assault response, another of the demands made last spring.
“We’re really starting with students,” Dupree said. “There needs to be more education at the student leadership level.”
The last two demands — increase oversight in the disciplinary process and have a clear list of punishments fo offenders — are more policy- based and will be much harder to change, though Overberg will be reviewing the Code of Student Conduct this summer, her first time doing so.
“There are still parts we could review to make sure we have a best practice approach,” Mozak said, citing the sanctions Drake enforces — suspension or expulsion — and how it defines “intoxication” as two of those parts.
Since Drake has only been under investigation for a year, OCR could take up to another year to finalize the results.
Once it has suggested changes to be made, the university has approximately six months to start implementing them before OCR checks back in.
“We’re being proactive,” Mozak said. “Transparency and communication are key.”
More information and resources can be found on Drake’s website on the Sexual Violence Prevention & Response Information page.