Sexual Violence Prevention

President's Task Force on Sexual Violence Prevention

President Anne Blackhurst initiated the President’s Task Force on Sexual Violence Prevention in Fall 2014 following highly publicized incidents of alleged sexual assault on campus. Following community dialogues involving students, staff and faculty taking place formally in the Faculty Development Center and the Women’s Center and informally throughout campus, President Blackhurst committed to building a shared vision on how to respond to sexual violence on campus. The Task Force recognizes our campus community has engaged various levels of conversations regarding the impact of sexual violence, but this charge is unique in that it is the first time we have taken such a comprehensive approach to address sexual violence under the leadership of campus administration. By acknowledging a persistent rape culture, not unique to our campus, President Blackhurst engaged an institution-wide process that began with the convening of a Task Force to assess, coordinate, and evaluate current and potential MSUM community resources to ensure a “campus culture in which sexual violence… is not tolerated.” The following is the Final Report fulfilling the charge of the President’s Task Force on Sexual Violence Prevention regarding MSUM specific recommendations on how to begin fulfilling this goal.

The Task Force will make recommendations to the president about how to create a campus culture in which sexual violence—including date and acquaintance rape, sexual harassment, stalking, and other forms of sexual assault—is not tolerated. Recommendations will encompass (but will not be limited to) campus policy enforcement, prevention efforts, educational programming, advocacy and support for survivors, safety and security measures, awareness, and intervention. Related issues, such as the role of binge drinking, will also be considered and addressed. Special consideration will be given to bystander training and the creation of a consent culture on campus. Recommendations will be delivered to the president by March 1, 2015.

  • Coordinator of Sexual Assault Services (Chair): Lynn Peterson
  • Title IX Coordinator (Co-Chair): Ashley Atteberry
  • Case Manager/Ombudsman: Nicole Domine
  • First Year Programs: Julia Roland
  • Senior Women’s Athletics Administrator: Gloria Riopelle
  • 1 Athletic Training staff member: Andrea Scott
  • 3 faculty members: Deb White, Gary Edvenson, Marilyn Labrensz
  • Coordinator of Women’s Center or designee: Ashley Atteberry, Title IX Coordinator
  • 2 additional Student Affairs/Enrollment Management staff: Heather Phillips; Kari Peterson
  • 1 Academic Affairs administrator: Ok-Hee Lee
  • Director of Public Safety or designee: Jessica Jorgensen
  • 3 students: Sean Duckworth, Megan Parks, and Shae Bodrero
  • Community member: Kathy Smith, Rape and Abuse Crisis Center
  • The Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program (advisory), Kandace Creel Falcón
  • Marketing and Communications: Kristi Monson

The members of the President’s Task Force on Sexual Violence Prevention modeled our goals from the University of Washington’s Task Force on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response along with months of discussion on what should specifically occur on our campus at Minnesota State University Moorhead. Detailed in the Final Report are seven goals to meet the charge by President Blackhurst regarding changes in campus culture to support a community which does not tolerate sexual violence in any form. These goals and recommendations are intended to propel MSUM beyond our current compliance with state and federal law related to sexual assault on campus. The Task Force has taken seriously the charge to change campus culture and thus, the goals and recommendations are bold in vision asking students, staff, faculty and administrators to be accountable to cultural shifts regarding attitudes and behaviors related to sexual violence. Following each goal, are a series of recommendations on how the campus community may meet the goal. While the committee believes each of the goals and recommendations to be important, the report does not rank order the recommendations under each goal in terms of importance. Instead the Task Force aimed to provide an ordering of goals based on what we anticipate would make the biggest impact on shifting our campus culture.

The Task Force has crafted a comprehensive report with 41 recommendations across seven broad goals. While the goals and recommendations outlined here are expansive, the Task Force has not provided clear determination on how to implement the recommendations. For instance, the Task Force has not included timelines on implementing specific recommendations, provided estimates regarding resources needed to accomplish recommendations, or detailed a ranking of difficulty for rolling out particular campus efforts. The Task Force recognizes the challenges involved in making systemic changes related to cultural shifts in preventing and addressing sexual violence through policy and education. The Task Force members wish to express that these efforts will only be as successful as the leadership to implement them and the resources (human and capital) to support them. This point cannot be stressed enough. Without adequate funding for personnel and programming resources we will not make swift, effective, or long lasting cultural shifts. To that end, the recommendations under goal seven provide a framework for “next steps.” Here, the Task Force encourages the development of a standing committee of key campus stakeholders to continue supporting the work of implementation, as well as providing an additional staff position to expand and support current campus efforts. The goals and recommendations provided in the Final Report will take significant investment, consistency, and evaluation and must include buy-in from the entire campus community.

  1. Develop and promote a unified message about our shared goals and values of being a safe and respectful campus community.
    1. Develop a university statement to be widely and continually distributed on web and printed material and at university events declaring our shared commitment to be a safe and respectful campus community where sexual violence is not tolerated.
    2. Develop a distinguishable brand concept/logo connected to the marketing campaign.
    3. Hold a public event in which the university’s plan is announced and endorsed by administration.
    4. Launch a social norming campaign to include students from different subsets of the campus community promoting our shared commitment to be a safe and respectful campus community where sexual violence is not tolerated.
    5. Develop a message to parents of incoming students with information about campus policies, the university statement described above, and discussion points they may use to talk with their children about sexual violence prior to arriving on campus.
    6. Require faculty to add campus statement about sexual violence, as well as information about support resources to their course syllabi.
  2. Implement a multi-layered and multifaceted plan to educate and empower students.
    1. Implement annual mandatory training about bystander intervention and sexual violence for all students to complete on campus before beginning their first semester.
    2. Develop and implement modules on sexual violence to be used in all FYE classes. Key components of the curriculum should include bystander intervention training, root causes, dynamics, consent, the role of alcohol and other drugs, and victim blaming behavior. It should also encourage students to play an active role in preventing sexual violence.
    3. Develop and implement modules on alcohol use and abuse to be used in all FYE classes. Key components of the curriculum should include the effects of alcohol on decision-making, the relationship between alcohol and other drug use, and sexual assault and violence.
    4. Implement annual mandatory training about bystander intervention and sexual violence specific to targeted populations including student athletes, Greek life members, and international students.
    5. Work with Office of Student Activities, Housing and Residential Life, and Athletics to have each set goals to plan at least one event per year in addition to those listed above (such as hosting speakers, workshops, etc.) to raise awareness and encourage students to play an active role in preventing sexual violence.
    6. Implement Coaching Boys to Men curriculum in Athletics.
    7. Provide funding and other incentives for student organizations to sponsor additional events related to preventing sexual violence or relationship violence.
    8. Create a Men Against Rape campus initiative to include trainings, mentoring, support, and other efforts to encourage men to take an active role to end sexual violence.
    9. In addition to current Wellness Educators program, expand peer-to-peer education through designated student advocates who will provide workshops and presentations on healthy relationships, defining consent, and campus and community resources.
    10. Expand utilization of media platforms such as "The Flush" (monthly Wellness Educator newsletter), digital signs, and social media to continue to raise awareness and encourage students to play an active role in preventing sexual violence.
    11. Develop training similar to the Safe Zone model with a goal of preparing students to serve as advocates, role models, and resource contacts for student peers, with a specific focus on training students from Athletics, Greek life, residence life, LGBTQ community, and international students.
    12. Coordinate and expand a public safety awareness campaign to encourage the use of peer support practices to enhance personal safety.
    13. Increase the number of Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) classes for MSUM community.
  3. Create a community that is informed about MSUM’s policies and procedures on sexual violence and is empowered to respond and provide support.
    1. Develop and implement mandatory training for all university employees about university policies and procedures related to sexual violence, reporting methods and responsibilities, campus and community resources, bystander intervention, and how to appropriately and sensitively facilitate discussions following a publicized assault (consideration should be given to survivors, secondary victims of both victim/survivor and alleged perpetrator who may be present). These trainings should be offered multiple times during the year. Specific emphasis should be given initially to training likely “first responders” such as advisors and supervisors of student employees.
    2. Continue to hold annual mandatory RA and Public Safety staff training. Enhance the curriculum to better encompass Task Force goals.
    3. Implement annual mandatory training about bystander intervention and sexual violence specifically tailored for all Athletics staff.
    4. Develop training for Campus Security Authorities to better understand policies, procedures, resources, and their responsibilities regarding reporting.
    5. Expand the number of Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) instructors for MSUM community.
    6. Educate campus community about the process by which the University can issue no contact orders and trespass notices.
    7. Streamline and widely publicize methods of reporting incidents of sexual assault and violence.
    8. Revise and better publicize methods of gathering information through anonymous disclosures.
    9. Develop and make widely available printed brochures for university employees and students with information about campus policies and procedures, how to respond if someone discloses an assault, and services available on campus as well as in the greater community.
  4. Enhance investigation and disciplinary processes for sexual assault.
    1. Work with general counsel to develop memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the University and the local law enforcement agencies of Moorhead, Fargo, and West Fargo to ensure timely response by all parties responsible for handling sexual assault cases.
    2. Train faculty and staff to serve as Advocates so that they can provide information and support for accused students.
    3. Train more investigators (i.e. university employees) to ensure timely and sensitive completion of sexual assault complaints and investigations.
  5. Have a visible, robust, easily-accessible, collaborative network of response and intervention services for students.
    1. Establish a Sexual Assault Response Team comprised of Title IX Coordinator, Coordinator for Sexual Assault Services/Advocate, and designated representatives from Marketing and Communications, Public Safety, and local law enforcement to formalize current practices, ensure coordinated responses to complaints, enable continuity of services, and allow for periodic evaluation of response procedures.
    2. Upgrade and maintain a clear and easily accessible website with comprehensive information regarding sexual violence and relationship violence. Make sure links to this information are posted in strategic locations such as the MSUM home page and webpages for Athletics, First Year Programs, the Women’s Center, Housing and Residential Life, Public Safety, Hendrix Clinic and Counseling Center, and Student Conduct and Resolution.
    3. Initiate/develop new collaborative relationships, and continue to maintain positive working relationships with various community agencies including but not limited to: 
      - Rape and Abuse Crisis Center
      - Red River Sexual Assault Response Team
      - Essentia
      - Sanford
      - Law Enforcement agencies
      - Court System
      - Social Services
      - FirstLink  
  6. Ensure that adequate resources, procedures, and structure are in place to build and sustain comprehensive prevention, education, and intervention efforts.
    1. Establish ongoing funding to implement and maintain Sexual Assault Task Force recommendations.
    2. Expand current staffing to include two full time positions with job responsibilities as follows: one full time staff position responsible for programmatic prevention efforts such as but not limited to coordinating campus-wide trainings, serving as a chair of newly developed standing committee (see 6.3 below), developing printed materials, assessing campus climate, and writing grants. One full time staff position dedicated to counseling and advocacy related but not limited to sexual assault and relationship violence (currently Coordinator for Sexual Assault Services Position).
    3. Develop a standing committee to include key stakeholders such as representatives from Housing and Residential Life, Athletics, Public Safety, Hendrix Clinic and Counseling Center, Director of Student Conduct and Resolution/Title IX Coordinator, Office of Student Activities, the Women’s Center, Marketing and Publicity, bargaining unit and student representatives, and outside resources such as Rape and Abuse Crisis Center. The committee will facilitate communication, help to ensure coordinated action, seek external grants to support programming, develop benchmarks for assessing the effectiveness of campus efforts, and conduct periodic assessment.
    4. Support and maintain the Women’s Center as a safe and autonomous space for students who have experienced sexual violence, and continue to develop feminist community to respond to survivors’ concerns. Expand resources to enable more programming in the Center to meet these goals.
    5. Support and maintain safe and autonomous spaces on campus like the Rainbow Dragon Center and American Indian Research and Resource Center, and expand resources to enable programming for those Centers to address sexual and relationship violence.
  7. In order to ensure ongoing improvement, develop and implement methods to assess the effectiveness of programs and services.
    1. Expand the role of the Sexual Assault Task Force to charge them with ensuring that significant progress is made on the recommendations in this report within one year. The Task Force would continue to meet for one year after the release of the report in order to evaluate progress and make recommendations for on-going efforts to achieve Task Force goals.
    2. Form a standing committee (see Recommendation 6.3) charged with developing benchmarks for assessing changes in campus culture and the effectiveness of campus efforts, conducting periodic assessment, and reporting assessment results to the campus community.

1 The University of Washington approved the use of language modeled from their goals. For their full report, see

Unwanted Sexual Experience and Relationship Aggression 2016 Student Survey

As stated within the March 2015 report, the Task Force recommended an assessment of the current campus conditions and subsequent changes in order to develop and implement methods to assess changes in campus culture and the effectiveness of campus programs and services. Data was gathered through an online survey administered March 21 thru April 17, 2016. Results of this study serve as a baseline for measuring changes in campus culture and safety in the future.

2016 Survey Results