A new culture emerging on campus

Brett Kuras

Each year, colleges and universities that receive federal aid must report crimes that may be Title IX violations. Data was collected between Jan. 2020 to Dec. 2020, and released in Oct. 2021. According to the Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act 2020 annual report released by the college, there were 13 reports to Title IX coordinators last year. Of those 13 reports, 10 chose not to proceed to complaint procedures, three were investigated by the college, two were resolved through complaint procedures and one was referred to local investigators.

The data demonstrates the prevalence of sexual assault on Augustana’s campus. On March 16, 2021, a member of the Observer staff Molly Sweeney wrote an article about how the Department of Justice (DOJ) gave a grant to Augustana College to fund a new position to prevent and educate Augustana College on sexual assault and other issues. Zachary Draves, the program director for sexual assault prevention education, has a finalized plan in the works to present to the college.

College campuses are currently experiencing what is known as “The Red Zone”, a time period in which sexual assaults are much more prevalent, which spans from the time when students move into when they depart for Thanksgiving break.

To counteract this, Draves’ finalized plan will begin implementation. Draves is excited to showcase his plan and hopes that it will change the culture not only at Augustana but for other colleges around the country.

“We are going to address campus sexual assault in various ways,” Draves said. “Through prevention, victim services, law enforcement, and student contact. The grant from the Department of Justice enables us to put a strategic plan that will go over the course of three years. We are really doing a ton of good things here.”

The DOJ allows Draves enough time to implement a three year plan. This year, the focus goes towards planning, the second year Draves implements his plan and the third year, Draves must evaluate his plan.

Draves is not alone in his work. Not only does he have the administration working alongside him, but students as well. He has assembled a team of students titled peer educators, some in specific areas like Greek life and sports, to educate and help spread his message to all corners of campus.

Mir Khadka, a sophomore peer educator, is excited to help Draves in his mission to prevent sexual assault.

“Zachary has a huge workload, so we are helping spread his message,” Khadka said. “We are trained on sexual assault prevention, and then we go out and spread our education to others.”

While Draves and his team are working extremely hard, they both have admitted they need the help of the student body as well.

“We want the student body to truly understand what we are talking about and absorb the message that we are spreading,” Khadka said. “If the students are not absorbing what we are saying, then it becomes redundant.It takes everyone, not just a few people.”

Kirby Stockwell, Augustana’s public relations and social media specialist, is thrilled to have Draves here as well. Since Stockwell is an alumni, she said she was aware that sexual assault did occur on campus during her time as a student.

“I think that anytime we have the opportunity to bring in someone like Zach to do the work he is doing, and be so good at it, is great,” Stockwell said. “I can’t speculate that if he was here in 2016 what the effect would be in 2020. However, I certainly think that now that we have him here, we can do even more to prevent and educate Augustana on sexual assault and other issues.”

Draves will be here for the next three years and will continue to work closely with staff and students to ensure that the grant is not wasted. There is no current plan open to the public, but Draves said that the work people will see on campus will be substantantial.