Thursday, January 29, 2015

[276] Tennessee Colleges and Universities Heighten Focus on Combatting Sexual Violence

An anticipated 432 staff members who work to prevent and respond to sexual assault and relationship violence at Tennessee’s public and private colleges and universities are expected to gather at Tennessee State University to participate in an intensive training summit led by respected advocates, researchers and practitioners from around the country.   

The summit will include three customized tracks for campus police, student support services providers and Title IX investigators and is being hosted by Tennessee’s public and private higher education systems—the University of Tennessee (UT), Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) and Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA). Staff are expected from 76 institutions across the state.

The summit also solidifies a partnership between the state’s higher education community and Tennessee’s leading private, non-profit sexual assault coalition. The Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence will provide trainers, resources and best practices to assist with combatting sexual assault and relationship violence on Tennessee’s campuses.

Through the development and implementation of effective prevention and awareness programs and campaigns, the statewide partnership will enhance the efforts of Tennessee’s higher education institutions to focus on student safety at all levels. It also will address the need for ongoing training to comply with regulations implementing the amendments to the Jeanne Clery Act made by the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which take effect July 1, 2015.

Summit sessions will cover topics ranging from domestic and dating violence 101 to bystander intervention and the psychological and biological effects of sexual assault. Keynote speakers include:
·       Katie Koestner, executive director of the Take Back the Night Foundation and Campus Outreach Services and the first survivor of acquaintance rape to speak out nationally
·       S. Daniel Carter, director of the 32 National Campus Safety Initiative formed by the families of the victims and survivors of the Virginia Tech tragedy
·       Connie Kirkland, director of sexual assault services at Northern Virginia Community College and contributing author of the 2014 NCAA guide “Addressing Sexual Assault and Interpersonal Violence”
·       Jim Hopper, consultant and instructor of psychology at Harvard Medical School specializing in the psychological and biological effects of sexual assault and serving on the congressionally-mandated Peace Corps Sexual Assault Advisory Council
·       Kayce Matthews, program specialist with the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence

The complete agenda and speaker biographies are available on the event website at The summit will be held at Tennessee State University’s main campus, located near downtown Nashville.

Media interested in attending are welcome but must make arrangements in advance to receive a parking pass and credential. Some speakers have restrictions on photo and video during presentations.  


UT System Media Contacts
Gina Stafford, (865) 974-0741,
Ellie Amador, (865) 974-1177,

TBR Media Contact
Monica Greppin-Watts, (615) 767-7865,

TICUA Media Contact
Patrick Meldrim, (615) 242-6400 x 204,

Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence Contact
Kathy Walsh, (615) 957-6730,

What They Are Saying:
“We are seeing increased accountability at schools nationwide for preventing and responding to sexual violence as a result of unprecedented attention by the federal government during the last two years. However, the unified response in Tennessee is unique and should serve as an example for other states. There is no formula for ending sexual violence, but the consequences of not taking action are the same.”
Kathy Walsh, Executive Director for the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence

“Along with the privilege of educating and guiding young minds come the responsibilities of creating safe learning environments and supporting our students when they need us most—responsibilities that deserve the highest level of urgency and commitment. We have a shared focus in Tennessee and believe we’re more likely to lead change by working together and holding each other accountable.”  
Joe DiPietro, President of the UT System

“The collaboration among higher education systems and institutions on this effort illustrates the serious attention being focused in Tennessee. The event offers a chance for sharing best practices, learning from national experts and hearing from those on the front line.”
John Morgan, Chancellor of the TBR System    

“The safety of our students has been, and remains, a chief value among private colleges and universities in Tennessee. We are so pleased to collaborate with our public higher education partners to discover better ways to end sexual assault and relationship violence on campus.  A key outcome to the college experience is to mold our students into healthy and productive citizens, and that starts with practicing respect and honor with each other.  We believe this joint training will help to facilitate this goal.”
Claude Pressnell, President of the TICUA System

Summary of Recent Federal Legislation and Guidance
On Oct. 20, 2014, the U.S. Department of Education published its final regulations implementing the amendments to the Clery Act made by the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  Key provisions of the VAWA regulations include:
·      Adding domestic violence, dating violence and stalking to the list of crimes for which higher education institutions must disclose statistics;
·      Requiring that institutional disciplinary proceedings be conducted by officials who, at a minimum, receive annual training on the issues related to dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking and on how to conduct an investigation and hearing process that protects the safety of victims and promotes accountability;
·      Requiring institutions to provide to all students and employees primary prevention and awareness programs concerning sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking;
·      Requiring institutions to conduct ongoing prevention and awareness programs for all students and employees concerning sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking; and
·      Requiring institutions to give the accuser and the accused certain rights in disciplinary proceedings, including allowing both the accuser and the accused to have an advisor of their choice present during a disciplinary proceeding.
In January 2014, President Obama announced the creation of the interagency White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. The task force is charged with sharing best practices along with increasing transparency, enforcement and public awareness to protect and support survivors. On April 29, 2014, the task force issued its first report, titled “Not Alone,” and launched a new website,

On April 29, 2014, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) also issued a guidance document titled, “Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence.”  The document supplemented guidance issued in April 2011 by OCR in a “Dear Colleague” letter on student-on-student sexual harassment and sexual violence.  Since 2011, OCR has entered into resolution agreements with numerous colleges and universities concerning compliance with Title IX. 

About the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence
The Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence is a private, non-profit organization composed of community leaders and program members who share a common vision of ending violence in the lives of Tennesseans through public policy, advocacy, education and activities that increase the capacity of programs and communities to address violence.

Partnership between Tennessee Higher Ed and the Coalition
In its comments on the Violence Against Women Act regulations, the U.S. Department of Education encouraged higher education institutions to draw on the knowledge and experience of state sexual assault coalitions in developing training and prevention programs relating to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

Participating Colleges and Universities
Tennessee Board of Regents – Tennessee’s Community Colleges (13/13)
·      Chattanooga State Community College
·      Cleveland State Community College
·      Columbia State Community College
·      Dyersburg State Community College
·      Jackson State Community College
·      Motlow State Community College
·      Nashville State Community College
·      Northeast State Community College
·      Pellissippi State Community College
·      Roane State Community College
·      Southwest Tennessee Community College
·      Volunteer State Community College
·      Walters State Community College
Tennessee Board of Regents – Universities (6/6)
·      Austin Peay State University
·      East Tennessee State University
·      Middle Tennessee State University
·      Tennessee State University
·      Tennessee Technological University
·      University of Memphis
Tennessee Board of Regents – Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (26/27)
·      TCAT – Athens
·      TCAT – Chattanooga
·      TCAT – Covington
·      TCAT – Crossville
·      TCAT – Crump
·      TCAT – Dickson
·      TCAT – Elizabethton
·      TCAT – Harriman
·      TCAT – Hohenwald
·      TCAT – Jacksboro
·      TCAT – Jackson
·      TCAT – Knoxville
·      TCAT – Livingston
·      TCAT – McKenzie
·      TCAT – McMinnville
·      TCAT – Memphis
·      TCAT – Morristown
·      TCAT – Murfreesboro
·      TCAT – Nashville
·      TCAT – Newbern
·      TCAT – Oneida
·      TCAT – Paris
·      TCAT – Pulaski
·      TCAT – Ripley
·      TCAT – Shelbyville
·      TCAT – Whiteville
University of Tennessee System (5/5)
·      UT Chattanooga
·      UT Health Science Center
·      UT Knoxville
·      UT Martin
·      UT Space Institute
Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (26/34)
·      Aquinas College
·      Belmont University
·      Bethel University
·      Christian Brothers University
·      Cumberland University
·      Fisk University
·      Freed-Hardeman University
·      Johnson University
·      King University
·      Lane College
·      Lee University
·      Lincoln Memorial University
·      Lipscomb University
·      Martin Methodist College
·      Maryville College
·      Milligan College
·      Rhodes College
·      Sewanee:  The University of the South
·      Southern Adventist University
·      Southern College of Optometry
·      Tennessee Wesleyan College
·      Trevecca Nazarene University
·      Tusculum College
·      Union University
·      Vanderbilt University

·      Watkins College of Art, Design & Film

[276a] Warm waters, cordial natives await MTSU study-abroad students in Fiji

MURFREESBORO — MTSU has scholarship money available to send interested students to the warm tropical paradise of Fiji.

But the cold, hard deadline of Wednesday, Feb. 4, looms for submitting scholarship applications to the university’s Office of Education Abroad.

The second annual study-abroad excursion to the Pacific island nation is slated for May 28 through June 7. Students will learn about the cultural, culinary, religious and recreational life of the country.

Ray Wiley, associate director of campus recreation, teaches the course (GS3200) for the MTSU Global Studies and Cultural Geography Program. He said the 21 people who made up last year’s entourage felt right at home.

“We really got immersed in the culture,” Wiley said. “We got a chance to embrace the people and they embraced us back by inviting us into the village, by making us a part of their lives for the time we were there.”

Students will visit schools, churches and a spa where clients receive open-air massages and are covered in Fijian mud to exfoliate the skin.

Kava rituals also are part of the course. Tribal chiefs welcome newcomers with a ceremony in which each individual drinks liquefied kava root from a coconut shell.

“It’s got a very earthy flavor,” Wiley said. “It’s very different. It has to be put into a sifter and it’s put in a bowl mixed with spring water.”

Students are advised to prepare for their Fiji experience by being active for at least an hour three days each week. While temperatures are expected to be in the mid-to-high 80s with a water temperature between 79 and 82 degrees, the students will be very physically active.

They also must become qualified in scuba diving or be very comfortable in the water so they can participate in snorkeling when they visit the ocean reefs. The next class at the Campus Recreation Center is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 1.

“You just have to know the location and be well-educated,” Wiley said of the underwater part of the class. “We go diving with some of the most experienced staff members there are in the business.”

Students will be given five articles about Fiji to read and are required to perform “SWOT” (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analyses of various places they visit.

One of Fiji’s major benefits is the wealth of delicious food, including organically grown fruits and vegetables, fresh fish and free-range chickens.

In addition to being environmentally conscious, Fijians are more concerned with the overall welfare of their tribes than with individual concerns, said Wiley, and they imparted those values to the students.

“You really don’t have to have all these gadgets and gizmos to be happy,” said Wiley. “What you need is close ties to your friends and your family and a deep sense of appreciation for the quality of life that you have.”

The $3,750 cost includes everything except airfare from Nashville to Los Angeles and back and a $40 diving insurance fee.

For more information, contact Wiley at 615-898-2104 or