Call 803-777-8248 or drop in to Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention & Prevention during business hours. Students, faculty and staff members can talk to a trained interpersonal violence advocate.
Initially announced on March 15, 2021 and then formally launched on March 26, the Title IX Task Force is an interdisciplinary team of students, faculty and staff formed to undertake a comprehensive review of processes, policies, communications, training and historic activity, and determine institutional capacity and effectiveness to support the safety of the community and respond to acts or threats of sexual harassment or interpersonal violence.
In the two months that followed, the 15 Task Force members – under the leadership of Dr. Kirsten Kennedy, associate vice president for Housing and Sustainability and Dr. Audrey Korsgaard, chair-elect of the Faculty Senate and professor of Management and director of the Riegel and Emory Human Resources Center at the Darla Moore School of Business – reviewed policies, studied procedures, tracked training, studied existing education and programs, interviewed subject matter experts, and considered resourcing levels currently in use across the university. With support from the nationally recognized team from Cozen O’Connor’s Institutional Response Group, the final report of the Task Force identifies areas for further review and offers insight into ways the university can improve the campus safety environment and create an ecosystem of care for those impacted by interpersonal violence.
Simultaneous to the Task Force process, the Board of Trustees tasked Audit and Advisory Services with the responsibility to review select historic cases and determine compliance with applicable policies, regulations and laws in place to govern Title IX activity. The report, titled "Title IX Process Review for Select Cases," was issued to the Board of Trustees on June 25, 2021.
While the work of the Audit and Advisory Services team found university policies and procedures met the appropriate national standards and requirements that govern the university’s work in this area, the Task Force recognizes those standards create a threshold of compliance, and believes that as a flagship university, USC can improve upon processes for continuous review and strengthening of systems that balance and support the needs of both complainants and respondents. While the Task Force’s findings point to several such areas, it also acknowledges the investments the institution has made and the diligence of the many employees who strive to keep our community safe each day.
The challenges faced by the institution are complex and systemic, and the Task Force’s recommendations reflect this complexity. The Task Force’s recommendations address three core principles. The first is respect: the process of addressing potential SHV violations must be conducted in a manner that respects the rights of both complainants and respondents and be conducted with interpersonal sensitivity. The second is accountability: all members of the university community need to recognize their shared accountability for stopping SHV. The third is empowerment: all members of the USC community should, through training, information sharing, and trust in the system, be empowered to respond effectively to SHV.
Finally, the work of the Task Force represents the first step in improving the university community’s response to SHV. Further work is needed to provide clarity on some underlying problems, benchmark best practices, and implement changes. Accordingly, this report serves to guide the work of the Implementation Group and Cozen O’Connor who will continue to work with members of the Task Force and key university leaders to further develop and implement these recommendations.
Both the Task Force Report and the Audit and Advisory Services Report were released in a letter from Interim President Harris Pastides to all students, faculty and staff on July 1, 2021.
With the findings of both the Audit and Advisory Services case review and the Task Force report serving as the foundation for understanding, the university has assembled an implementation group charged by Interim President Harris Pastides with the responsibility to quickly develop and implement the actions necessary to improve the university’s response to issues related to Title IX and interpersonal violence. The group is co-led by Dr. Stacy Fritz and Dr. Bill Pruitt.