USC hosts national Title IX conference

President C. L. Max Nikias, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Elizabeth Garrett and Vice Provost for Student Affairs Ainsley Carry hosted student affairs vice presidents from 35 universities in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center Ballroom on Monday and Tuesday for a conference to discuss issues related to sexual misconduct on college campuses.

The conference was a result of Nikias’s desire for USC to take a leadership position on the issue of sexual misconduct, Carry said. Following the annual meeting of Association of American Universities presidents this past summer, Nikias invited each AAU university to attend a conversation at USC to discuss sexual misconduct. The conference was also enumerated in the seven initiatives to address sexual misconduct that Garrett announced in a memorandum on Aug. 27.

“The provosts and presidents usually get together, but this is the first time the vice presidents got together,” Carry said. “They spent a day and a half strictly on sexual misconduct on college campuses — almost two days of conversation on that single topic. It’s the first time that has ever happened, and it happened here at USC.”

The group discussed a report from the White House Task Force’s to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, bystander education — including the latest federal government campaign, “It’s On Us” — sexual assault climate surveys, existing and pending legislation, and prevention education.

Though USC and many AAU universities at the conference already have sexual misconduct prevention education programs in place for incoming students, a new topic of discussion was the idea of implementing an education program for all four years of undergraduate studies.

“There was this realization that no one has a four-year education module, and there is a call to action,” Carry said. “Our assignment for the next year is to collectively build a four-year educational module that’s digestible, smart, witty and that involves student input and feedback so we can make sexual misconduct education not just a one-time, new student experience but something students are reminded of every year.”

The 45 conference attendees also listened to presentations from experts in the field of higher education and sexual misconduct. Event speakers included Brett Sokolow, president and CEO of the NCHERM Group, LLC; attorneys at law Leslie M. Gomez and Gina Maisto Smith of Pepper Hamilton, LLP; Sharyn Potter, co-director of Prevention Innovations; and Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education president Kevin Kruger.

Following this conference, it was decided that the AAU vice presidents of student affairs will continue to gather annually to discuss Title IX and other student affairs-related issues.

“Five years from now we may have gotten to a place where we resolved some of these issues, but there are always issues about Title IX and a variety of issues in this area that students affairs vice presidents work for on behalf of their student bod[ies],” Carry said.