Loyola attempts to amend their protocol for response to on campus gender based violence through participation in a program called the “Culture of Respect Collective.”
Loyola Reevaluates Gender-Based Violence Protocol on Campus in New Initiative
Content warning: Sexual assault
Since 2022, Loyola has been participating in a nationwide program called “Culture of Respect Collective” in an effort to uncover necessary changes within the university when it comes to dealing with allegations of sexual assault and gender-based violence.
The Culture of Respect Collective is a program which helps universities to reevaluate their responses to sexual misconduct and help create a safer environment for students on campus, according to their website.
The organization uses what they call a CORE Evaluation, which includes four areas of focus, according to the Culture of Respect website. The six pillars of the guide include a self-assessment, survivor support, clear policies, multi-tiered education, public disclosure and schoolwide mobilization, according to Tim Love, executive director of equity and compliance and the Title IX coordinator at Loyola.
The evaluation lasts for two years, and the university is currently about halfway through the process, according to Love.
Title IX was signed into law in 1972, and is in place to protect people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities, according to the U.S. Department of Education website.
Love said the university had planned to do a self-evaluation during the summer of 2022, but became interested in joining the Culture of Respect Collective after hearing about it from Samantha Maher Sheahan, associate dean of students, deputy Title IX coordinator and student equity case manager.
Maher Sheahan did not respond to The Phoenix’s requests for comment.
“It is important for us that the entire university community be informed about the commitment that exists at this campus to do this as best we can,” Love said.
The university has spent a sizable amount of time and money going through this process, according to Love.
Love was out of office and unable to respond to requests for comment on how much money is going toward the process.
Love said it was important for him to note although he was involved in this process, he was not alone and has worked with a number of other people throughout the university on this initiative.
In order to allow the university the chance to get the student perspective, multiple students have been added onto the leadership board for the Culture of Respect Collective project. There are about 30 students and staff on the leadership board in total, according to Love.
“Loyola has identified a core Campus Leadership Team comprised of students, faculty and staff that will engage in a robust self-assessment process, participate in the creation of an action plan for the institution, and provide support for implementing specific initiatives,” the university website wrote.
Hannah Yun is one of the student representatives within the Campus Leadership Team for the Culture of Respect Initiative. Yun, a junior, said she first became interested in getting involved after they initially announced it through email last year.
Yun, who has worked in the Student Government of Loyola Chicago (SGLC) for two years and currently serves as a senator and the chair of the campus life and operations committee, said she always looks to the student perspective first when it comes to working with university administration.
“I knew that the university’s response to sexual misconduct and the whole Title IX process was something that students weren’t happy about,” Yun said. “That’s definitely something that pushed me to get involved.”
The Campus Leadership Team meets about once every month, although the scheduling is not always consistent, according to Yun.
Yun said the most important thing for the university to do is speak with students about their experiences and what they want to see, because Title IX exists for the students benefit. She said the university listens to student perspectives, but does not always take the time to fully consider the suggestions the students on the Campus Leadership Team make.
One of the ideas which Yun proposed in a meeting with the Campus Leadership Team was the organization of meetings between the university administration and student organizations. Love did not completely follow through with these requests, according to Yun.
“Tim Love did come to an SGLC senate meeting, and he did field a lot of questions there, which does constitute meeting with student leaders,” Yun said. “We are only one part of the university, and I think that I definitely just want to see more events like that, talking and sitting down with student leaders outside of SGLC.”
Love did not respond to the Phoenix request for comment on the previous quote.
The top priority of the university is for students to feel safe in their on campus environment, according to Mira Krivoshey, director of health promotion at the Wellness Cenƒter and a part time professor in the Women and Gender Studies Department.
Krivoshey said she wants to encourage students to communicate with the university with any safety concerns they may have, or any changes they may want to see.
“I think we want students to be partners with us in this work, that’s the only way it does work,” Krivoshey said. “We also hear from students that they want more transparency from us in our commitment to this work, so I think it’s important for students to know so they can give us feedback.”
Students may reach out to those within the university who are working with the Culture of Respect Collective with comments, questions and concerns through the email [email protected].
In the past students have expressed criticisms with the way the university handled sexual assault allegations on campus, leading to several large protests on campus, The Phoenix previously reported.
In the past, The Phoenix has cited accusations of gender based violence occurring on campus, as well as students who were angered by the university’s response. This includes a lawsuit which was filed regarding the “mishandling” of a sexual assault cases, The Phoenix previously reported.
The vocalization of concerns from students during this event played a part in the university’s decision to continue to commit to this program, which the university originally committed to in January of 2022, according to Love.
Ayesha Chaudary, a sophomore student, led the protests which happened during the inauguration of Loyola’s current president, Mark C. Reed, The Phoenix previously reported.
Chaudry said she would like to see the university give more of an acknowledgement of the gender-based violence issues on campus.
“Administration has to be cognisant of the fact that their student body would not be rising up the way that they are for no reason, if there was no failure on their part,” Chaudry said.
Chaudry said she will continue to fight for representation within the university.
Carolyn Hicks, a first year student, said she feels the university could do more to share with students the process for handling sexual assault misconduct allegations.
“I feel like they could do more to address allegations,” Hicks said. “I have heard stories about them happening and the university is pretty quiet about it.”
Following sexual misconduct allegations from a student in October 2022, the university sent an email to the Loyola community recognizing the allegations and student safety concerns.
“Many of you may be aware of social media posts concerning allegations of sexual assault involving members of our student community,” the university wrote in an email to the Loyola community Oct. 25. “To any student who has experienced sexual violence, we see you, we hear you, and we are here for you. You are not alone.”
Krivoshey said one way she is involved with student support is through staffing The Line, which has been in operation since 2010. The Line is an anonymous phone line used by the university to provide support for students suffering from gender-based violence, according to Krivoshey.
Krivoshey said she is in charge of staffing The Line during the week, and on the weekends it is staffed by volunteer students who have completed a class she teaches on victim support and sexual assault response tactics within the Women and Gender Studies Department.
There are about 12 students who currently volunteer for The Line, most of them identifying as a woman, but with some identifying as male as well, according to Krivoshey.
Krivoshey said she approaches this initiative with the goal of focusing on the survivors of gender-based violence, and how this will impact them.
“I’m coming at it from a very survivor-centered perspective,” Krivoshey said. “My goal is always for students to know there is a resource on campus where they will be believed and supported and where they can come to know all of their options relating to anything having to do with gender-based violence. There are people on this campus who are there just for them.
Love said he thinks it is important for the university community to be informed about the commitment of the administration to handle gender-based violence and sexual misconduct in the best way they can.
“This work, the work of both prevention, education, response, investigation, adjudication, supportive measures, all this stuff that goes into coordinating the university’s response to sexual misconduct, is very complicated and impacted by the various different laws,” Love said. “I think at Loyola, we do great work in this area. I want students to know that there is an institutional commitment.”
Love said he wants students to know they can count on the university to support them through whatever they go through.
Featured image by Ella Govrik | The Phoenix