Yesterday, while many NASPA members were wrapping up the 2018 NASPA Annual Meeting, Teri Lyn Hinds, NASPA Director of Policy Research & Advocacy, joined Sue Riseling, Executive Director of the International Association of College Law Enforcement Officers (IACLEA), David Bousquet, President of the IACLEA Board of Directors, and Jeff Allison, Director of Government and External Relations at IACLEA, at a briefing for Congressional staff on issues of campus public safety as part of IACLEA’s Capitol Hill Day 2018. Unfortunately, Alison Kiss, Executive Director of the Clery Center was also scheduled to speak, but was unable to attend due to the weather.
Chief Riseling discussed a newly passed IACLEA statement on gun violence prevention, the importance of addressing campus hazing, and sought support for the Sean Collier Act, which would provide a federal death benefit to sworn officers of the law working at independent colleges and universities if they are killed in the line of duty. Ms. Hinds spoke briefly on a variety of topics, including campus hazing incidents, compelled disclosure policies and law enforcement jurisdiction for campus sexual assault incidents, the importance of campus law enforcement agency rapport with the campus community when responding to students in mental distress, and supporting campuses for the financial burdens of hosting controversial speakers. Her prepared remarks are available below.
Good morning and thank you for taking time today to join us. Thank you also to IACLEA for the invitation to speak as part of this briefing today. Having returned last night through the snow from NASPA's Annual Meeting, a gathering of over 8,000 student affairs professionals from campuses across the country wrapping up today in Philadelphia, I can attest to the importance of campus safety for student affairs leaders. No matter if the topic was the need to maintain free speech protections for both speakers and protesters around controversial topics, considerations of sexual assault prevention and response, or breaking cultural norms around hazing, questions about campus and student safety were always part of the conversations.
NASPA is the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession. We serve a full range of professionals who provide programs, experiences, and services that cultivate student learning and success in concert with the mission of our colleges and universities. Established in 1918 and founded in 1919, NASPA is comprised of over 15,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries, and 8 U.S. Territories. Through high-quality professional development, strong policy advocacy, and substantive research to inform practice, NASPA meets the diverse needs and invests in realizing the potential of all its members under the guiding principles of integrity, innovation, inclusion, and inquiry. NASPA members serve a variety of functions and roles, including the vice president and dean for student life, as well as professionals working within housing and residence life, student unions, student activities, counseling, career development, orientation, enrollment management, racial and ethnic minority support services, and retention and assessment.
Since Alison [Kiss, Executive Director of the Clery Center] was unable to join us, I wanted to start this morning by addressing the issue of hazing on college campuses. Hazing is a complex form of social ritual and - as ritual - it is not often identified even by those who are hazing victims as something that is wrong. This is a cultural issue, and unfortunately, it's not one limited strictly to college campuses even though past-traditional college students, those who attend a residential college full-time immediately after graduating high school, can be more vulnerable to it. Addressing cultures of hazing on college campuses requires careful thought, consideration, and planning. Campus leaders, including student affairs professionals, who know their campuses and student cultures well, are in the best position to take steps to educate and change hazing cultures on campus. I know that Alison would want to talk to you all about “Report and Educate About Campus Hazing Act” or the “REACH Act” (HR 2926) introduced by the Honorable Mr. Meehan and Ms. Fudge, which addresses one aspect of the issue with hazing - creation of consistent campus educational programs. I applaud the intent of the REACH Act, but also recognize that lack of consistency in definitions across law enforcement agencies at the federal and state level would introduce significant challenges to campuses asked to report on hazing incidents, as would be required by the REACH Act. This problem, however, is not insurmountable. We support IACLEA's call for addressing the inconsistencies in definitions between the Clery Act and other legislation and urge Congress to take action on this issue.
The recent conviction of Larry Nassar, the former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor who sexually assaulted hundreds of his former patients, and the nonstop media attention to the case has many institutions of higher education revisiting their sexual assault policies and procedures. Presidents are directing their Vice Presidents, Title IX Coordinators, and other sexual assault experts on campus to identify areas of training or response that could leave their institutions vulnerable. For other campuses, the directive is coming from outside of campus. There are many solutions that might be offered to address the fears of campus presidents and legal counsel regarding an institution’s response protocols and policies. These include better training for employees who learn about incidents of sexual assault, stronger mandatory reporting policies and more comprehensive education for students, faculty and staff who are impacted by sexual violence, among others. Unfortunately, none of these solutions comes without cost, and one - mandatory reporting policies - puts the burden of that cost on student survivors. Compelled disclosure policies are opposed by national medical associations and victims’ rights groups alike because they take the choice about reporting away from an adult whose very recovery depends on being able to regain control over their own lives. Compelled disclosure policies can also sometimes serve to send survivors underground, resulting in their choice to “forego treatment and support, rather than sacrifice their privacy and control under compelled disclosure,” (Holland, Cortina and Freyd (2018), 14). For that reason, while they are a compelling approach, stronger mandatory reporting policies might actually have a contravening effect on sexual violence efforts on campus, creating an unintended consequence whereby survivors simply stop reporting at all.
Where law enforcement involvement is warranted in incidents of sexual assault accusations on campus or involving students, we agree with IACLEA's position on campus law enforcement jurisdiction over campus sexual assault investigations. Campus law enforcement agencies invest in developing a rapport with their students that local law enforcement agencies, by the nature of their work, are often unable to establish. A criminal investigation by a campus law enforcement agency is independent of the administrative investigation required by Title IX and while the investigations are independent of each other, the campus law enforcement agency is better positioned than a local law enforcement agency to coordinate the criminal investigation with the Title IX investigation so that the trauma to the survivor is minimized while maintaining due process protections for the accused.
Campus law enforcement agencies rapport with the campus community is also essential in incidents involving mentally distressed students. College campuses are reporting unprecedented demand for mental health services and support for students. According to the American College Health Association, suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. Students, their families, and increasingly lawmakers expect that campuses will fill the gaps in our public health infrastructure in the name of supporting student success, and campus law enforcement personnel are sometimes the first to respond to a situation involving a student in mental distress. While their rapport with the campus community allows campus law enforcement agencies to respond with appropriate sensitivity, it comes with a responsibility for campus law enforcement agencies to engage in additional training to ensure appropriate response.
Campuses have long been valued in our communities for fostering curiosity and learning, creating space to engage in uncomfortable conversations or wrestle with new ideas. Indeed, it is this very trait of open access and willingness to explore across the political spectrum that has resulted in campuses today becoming the stage - as they were during the Civil Rights Era - upon which our national conversations about race, inequality, and justice play out. Far from squelching free speech and intellectual diversity, campuses across the country host speakers and events on a wide variety of topics and who hold a diversity of views and opinions, challenging attendees to broaden their perspectives and engage in deliberative discourse. The vast majority of this activity occurs without issue or protest. Those few instances where speakers are met with protests, who may themselves be met with counter-protesters, all of whom may or may not be students, make for sensational and memorable headlines, but they are far from the norm on most college campuses. Unfortunately, those few sensational incidents place incredible demands on campuses. When large protests and counter-protests are expected to occur, college and university leaders spend countless hours planning and organizing both campus and community resources to ensure, above all, the safety of our students. In a recent article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, the financial impact of recent incidents at the University of California Berkeley, Evergreen State College, and Middlebury College have been detailed, including the need for significant preparations and training in addition to officer overtime costs and, in the case of Evergreen, the need to reimburse costs for municipal officers needed to ensure safety during the campus-based event. Indeed at the NASPA Annual Meeting I just returned from, campus leaders from around the country cited similar experiences. These costs place a material demand on our campus law enforcement agencies, requiring them to add not only additional person-hours to aid with the immediate event, but also expectations for training and equipment beyond what may normally be required. At a time when our college campuses are increasingly asked to cut costs not seen to be directly related to educating students, these unexpected and sometimes sudden events force college and university leaders to expend resources - in the case of Evergreen, as much as a quarter of a million dollars in unbudgeted expenses - to keep the peace instead of investing in students' educations.
Thank you for joining us this morning. I'm happy to answer any questions you may have.