Sexual Assault Prevention Initiatives

Dear Campus Community:

This past fall I summarized seven steps our campus was taking in an effort to rid the University of Memphis of the abhorrent behavior of sexual assault and prevent future tragedies. Below is an update of progress made to date in each area, along with a summary of our aggregate data for the 2017 calendar year.

1) Development and implementation of additional, no-cost personal defense classes utilizing the R.A.D. (Rape Aggression Defense) curriculum
Police Services has a certified RAD instructor and hosted two training sessions last fall. Two additional officers are ready to pursue certification at an upcoming RAD Training Certification Class in Tennessee, which will allow our officers to meet other instructors across the state and build relationships for information sharing and discussion of evolving best practices.

Additionally, Police Services has two officers attending "Violence Victims and Trauma – a Community Conversation" and other training during the VIOLENCE, VICTIMS AND TRAUMA 2018 Conference being held this week. The conference is organized by the Memphis Sexual Assault Task Force, Memphis Area Women's Council and Memphis Says No More.

2) Creation of a sexual assault prevention specialist position
The University has created a Title IX Prevention Specialist position. Recruitment to fill the position is underway, and we anticipate extending an offer to the selected candidate by the end of February. As mentioned in our fall communication, the Title IX Prevention Specialist will be responsible for planning, developing and implementing a comprehensive sexual violence prevention program that promotes and encourages healthy attitudes, behaviors and community norms for all UofM students, staff and faculty.

This Friday, the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) will announce the launch of Haven Title IX online training program. Haven is a two-part program that includes an interactive training module and follow-up survey for all University Staff and Faculty, ensuring campus awareness of individual responsibility and obligation to prevent and address Title IX concerns.

3) Support for creation of a student-led organization targeting prevention and education
The Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Coalition has been formed and is active. The mission of this group is to bring awareness and demonstrate prevention tactics for sexual misconduct. Another student-led group, SafetyNet, focuses on providing support for sexual assault survivors. Both are actively recruiting new members. Student leaders have also met with OIE staff to provide feedback on communication strategies and policy modification, a practice that will continue.

4) Creation of a student advocate program geared toward helping students navigate what can be a challenging process
The Memphis Advocacy, Resources, and Support (MARS) program, which will place advocates and advisors in contact with those involved in cases of sexual misconduct, has been established. Volunteers are currently completing more than 15 hours of training over a four-week period and should begin assisting students in March.

5) Modified spring orientation program
A Public Safety, Equity, Inclusion and Student Accountability session is now being presented to all students during orientation. OIE, University Police and the Office of Accountability, Outreach and Support all have staff involved in the delivery of content and related discussion. The session covers University resources, procedures and policies designed to create a safe, supportive, inclusive and healthy learning environment for all students.

6) Stakeholder meeting led by Dr. Justin Lawhead, Dean of Students, that will review and discuss current and expanded resources targeting sexual assault
The initial stakeholder meeting was held this past semester. Dr. Lawhead will continue to meet on a periodic basis with stakeholders to discuss active programs and strategize about current and future needs.

7) Formation of a Sexual Assault Prevention Taskforce
The Taskforce has been formed and is already directing our efforts. They have expanded our focus on bystander training, related peer education programming and are assisting with our Sexual Assault Awareness Month activities.

During the Open Conversation session last fall, I stated the UofM would be releasing aggregate University data on an annual basis. As you are aware, we are unable to share individual student data. A total of 19 sexual assault cases were investigated by OIE during the 2017 calendar year, with 11 occurring off campus and eight cases reported on campus. Sixteen of those cases involved a student respondent. Eight cases are still under active investigation, one case has been withdrawn, and one continues in abeyance (most often due to active criminal investigation).

Of the nine cases closed during the 2017 calendar year, five were administratively closed (secondary to a complainant's refusal to participate in the investigation), two were informally resolved with agreement among the parties involved, and two were found to have UofM policy violations.

Among the actions taken across all cases, three cases involved abeyance requests from the complainant (most often due to active criminal investigation), thirteen involved no contact directives, six resulted in suspensions/expulsions (removal from campus), six involved no trespass orders (removal from campus), four involved restriction of access to parts of campus, one involved removal from University housing and one resulted in University housing re-assignment.

Hopefully this update makes clear our commitment to ridding the University of Memphis of this repugnant behavior, coupled with nurturing a caring and supportive campus environment.


M. David Rudd
President | Distinguished University Professor