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New Prevention coordinator already familiar with Drake

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BY KATHERINE BAUER

After several months of applications, interviews and surveys, Drake University has chosen its new Prevention Coordinator for Sexual and Interpersonal Misconduct.

Tess Cody will step into her new role on Oct. 17.

“I’m appreciative that it got fast tracked to this point,” search committee member Grace Rogers said. “We have a lot of new first-years on campus. It’s really important to get this information in their heads.”

Cody will be responsible for many of the sexual assault prevention programs on campus. Students said that from their interviews with her, she has some goals and programs in mind, but wants to get to know Drake’s environment before pursuing them.

“She’s well aware she’s not walking into a barren field,” said Russell White, a search committee member. “We are doing things.”

The new coordinator will likely spend the first few weeks, if not months, getting to know campus, Mentors in Violence Prevention and meeting students and staff.

However, Cody is no stranger to Drake’s campus. Most recently, she worked at Crisis Intervention Services and supervised VIP.

“(Tess) is incredible because she’s already worked a lot with people and students on campus and in other Des Moines schools,” White said. “She’s very used to working with students in regards to sexual assault and also prevention measures. So it was a very natural fit for her.”

Cody has extensive training in the field of sexual and domestic violence. She worked at the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence and organized many training and educational programs on sexual assault and domestic violence.

“She talked about a lot of the programming that has worked at other colleges and ideas on how to bring that to Drake,” Rogers said. “She’s had success with that in other places, and I think that track record is really encouraging.”

The Luther College grad’s experience was a key determining factor in her hire, White said.

“Whenever we’re dealing with things like sexual assault and interpersonal misconduct, you have to have some kind of familiarity with how to handle those situations,” White said. “It’s a very sensitive topic, and it’s not something that any random Joe can walk in and do. They need to have the knowledge; they need to have the passion. They need to have some kind of experience.”

Beyond her professional and educational experience, students agreed Cody has the personality and demeanor for the job.

“She has one of those personalities that when you sit down and talk with her, ” White said. “She’s very comfortable and she reaches out to you. She opens up a sense of vulnerability, which makes you feel comfortable to kind of open up as well.”

Cody’s office will be located in the Student Inclusion, Involvement and Leadership suite in Olmsted Center. Due to the nature of her position, Cody will be a mandatory reporter, legally obligated to report any instances of abuse or suspected abuse she comes across.

Students are reminded that there are confidential services at the counseling center and the health center. Members of VIP are also confidential advocates.

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