In response to the Campus SAVE Act of 2013, DePaul developed a working group to review existing university policies and guidelines around sexual and relationship violence. This year, the Sexual and Relationship Violence Prevention and Response Working Group is doing important work to keep this critical issue in front of people, and is currently developing a five-year strategic plan for SRV prevention and response at DePaul.
Marla Morgen, senior associate counsel of the Office of the General Counsel, originally chaired the working group.
"By the fall of 2014, the group had spearheaded the effort to update, implement and communicate a new institutional policy, but that didn't mean that addressing the critical issue of sexual and relationship violence was complete," Morgen says. In late 2014, then-president the Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M., asked the group to continue its work under an expanded purpose.
"In addition to Fr. Holtschneider's request, we had simply learned, as we worked together, that there was value in the group coming together, sharing multiple perspectives and providing ongoing institutional attention around the issue of sexual and relationship violence and prevention response," Morgen says.
Today the group includes representatives from Public Safety, the Office of the General Counsel, the Dean of Students Office, Health Promotion and Wellness, the LGBTQA Resource Center, Residential Education, Academic Affairs, Athletics, Student Employment, Human Resources, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, Office of Compliance and Risk Management, Office of Public Relations and Communications, Staff Council and the Student Government Association.
In September 2015, DePaul welcomed Karen Tamburro, its first full-time Title IX coordinator. She immediately joined the SRV Prevention and Response Working Group, and in 2016-17 became the chair, a role she holds to this day.
Once Tamburro joined, the group embarked on two thorough self-assessments of DePaul's SRV programs and services. Tamburro; Shannon Suffoletto, director; and Hannah Retzkin, sexual and relationship violence prevention coordinator - both of the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness - led this effort.
"Completing the assessments was a very long and involved process, but we learned so much," Suffoletto says. "Some findings from the assessments we expected, but other valuable information we would have never considered came out, too."
The results of Everfi's Campus Prevention Network and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education Core Evaluation assessments helped the working group understand DePaul's strengths and challenges as related to sexual and relationship violence prevention and response. Four identified challenges became the basis of a five-year sexual and relationship violence strategic plan: education and programming, assessment and program evaluation, policy, and institutional support and communication.
Tamburro underscored the value of the self-assessment process.
"I'm not sure it would have occurred to the group to consider how the university and its leadership communicates information about SRV to the broader university community without the self-assessments," Tamburro says.
Tamburro noted that SRV is an issue that the university takes very seriously and provides broad support for, and not just around compliance. "DePaul cares about supporting individuals in the process and doing the right thing for them, and people need to know that."
Currently, strategic goal subcommittees from the working group are gathering to flesh out objectives and activities in the four areas, and hope to officially launch the plan in fall 2018. For more information about the Sexual and Relationship Violence Prevention and Response Working Group or its five-year strategic plan, contact Karen Tamburro.