Committee to start collaboration to prevent sexual assault
Drake’s Title IX coordinator has been on campus for just a little over a year. Now, she is looking to make a connection with students.
Katie Overberg, the Title IX coordinator, is organizing the Sexual and Interpersonal Misconduct Student Advisory Committee. Her goal is to connect students with the administration behind sexual assault compliance policy.
“What I saw when I got to Drake last fall was that there needs to be more communication so that students know what administration is doing,” Overberg said. “And that administration, more importantly, knows what students need and want.”
The administration behind sexual assault policy includes the dean of students, the prevention coordinator, residence life and public safety. The missed connection with these administrators is a feeling shared by students.
“I do think it’s important for administration to be accessible to students,” said Student Services Senator Grace Rogers, who is looking to serve on the committee. “Historically, some of the controversy behind sexual assault policy reform is that administration goes silent or they don’t address the problem. That’s not been a problem, or at least, not to the degree that is has at other schools.”
The committee has open positions for students from six specific groups, including Student Senate, Residence Hall Association, Unity Roundtable, athletics, Fraternity and Sorority Life and a graduate or professional student position. In addition, Overberg said she wants four to five students to take on at-large positions.
“I know that great ideas are going to come from the students,” Overberg said. “I want people to get to meet the staff that are involved, face to face, know what we do and start to de-mystify the process.”
Rogers said that her goal as the Student Services Senator is to fix any problems students might have, including sexual assault and personal misconduct.
“This is also an issue that is very important to me,” Rogers said. “I campaigned on sexual assault policy reform … When Katie Overberg asked me to serve on this committee, I 100 percent said yes right away.”
In addition to being a mechanism for students and administration to connect, Overberg said a goal of the committee is to facilitate ideas for prevention projects and that suggestions for policy reform from the group will be examined.
The committee will take ideas for sexual assault awareness and prevention from outside organizations into consideration.
“We’ve had some great feedback from Student Senate with questions for Scott Law (Drake’s public safety director),” Overberg said. “And it was just no one had asked that question before.”
The Health and Safety Senator Russell White, who interested in a position on the committee, campaigned on improving the health and safety of students on campus, including sexual assault awareness.
“I think it’s more important that the administration takes a priority on sexual assault violence more than it has in the past,” White said, “which is why I want to be a part of this group so that we can not only just communicate with the students what’s happening but also push administration on some measures they need to take to make students of all genders and of all kinds of ethnicities feel safe on campus.”
White said he thinks this committee will help create a collaborative, productive space.
“I think (preventing sexual assault) has to be a campus effort,” White said. “It can’t always be fragmented in our different initiatives. One thing I’m hoping this committee will do is bring those groups together and do a better job at having the entire community address this issue.”
Overberg said she would like all students interested in positions on the committee to contact her by Sept. 30. Once solidifying the committee members, they will begin meeting in early October, which is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Overberg can be reached at email@example.com.