By Cory Lesniak
Dominican administrators launched an internal investigation after the alleged sexual assault on campus. A female student notified Campus Security officers of the alleged assault on the morning of Oct. 11. The alleged offender turned himself in to River Forest police officers on Oct. 13 and was later released with no criminal charges. RFPD closed the case when Dominican was just starting theirs.
Sexual assault falls under the domain of Title IX, a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination. Dominican administrators were recently required to re-write Title IX policies.
Dean of Students Trudi Goggin said, “We take our responsibilities to Title IX very seriously. The university is conducting is own private and confidential Title IX investigation.”
Dominican administrators do not handle allegations of sexual assault in the same way as other misconduct issues. Goggin said, “Instead of just a conduct board hearing we have used the recommended civil rights investigation approach that the Department of Education recommended.”
The process recommended by the Department of Education is implemented by a Title IX coordinator. Amy McCormack was the coordinator until this year when interim Chief Diversity Officer Christina Perez took over. When a sexual assault is reported, the Title IX coordinator assigns deputies who meet with the complainant. They explain his or her rights, institutional responsibilities and the resources available.
Once the deputies have explained the rights to the complainant, the Title IX coordinator assigns two investigators to the case. They are responsible for gathering information and interviewing anyone involved.
Goggin said: “The investigation requires absolute neutrality. The internal investigation is to determine whether we feel there was a violation. We are going to look at largely whether there was consent and in the absence of consent we have a violation.”
If the investigators’ findings show there was a violation, the case is viable for sanctions.
Goggin said the investigation is a voluntary process. “If at anytime the complainant or the responding can decide they do not want to participate they can walk away from the process.”
Perez said the new Title IX policies are long because they have to be. “There are many dimensions we are required to include by different laws and then elements we wanted to include because it helps foster accountability and a healthy climate.” she said.
Dominican faculty, staff and students will be trained in the new policies via an online workshop this winter. Perez said, “We have been working on creating an online workshop explaining our policies and process. We are launching it through Canvas on Oct. 30.. Dominican faculty, staff and students will be expected to complete the training by Dec. 31.”