Hatter Network

2017’s Homecoming Royalty Nominations

Don't know who was nominated for homecoming court? Check out the list below. It might be you.

October 31, 2017

Filed under Campus

This year's homecoming nominations shed the usual king-queen gender binary to become Homecoming Royalty! Though the intentions behind the change were not yet disclosed by the Homecoming Committee, it can be regarded as a small ...

Crime Report: P-Safe Highlights Through the Years

Building may come and go, fashion trends change, but crime--crime is forever.

October 27, 2017

Filed under Campus

Then (1993-2015)April 13th, 1993 The Reporter vol. 105Fire Bomb: four Stetson students were arrested by the DeLand Police department for igniting a container of gasoline near the intersection of Woodland Blvd and Michigan Ave. No ...

The Problem(s) With Parking

Written by a contributing author and student, Dennis Lynch

October 25, 2017

Filed under Campus, Opinion

I remember helping my girlfriend pack for Thanksgiving break my freshman year at Stetson University. It was a hot November day, and the last thing I wanted to do was shuffle around boxes at the Chaudoin residence parking lot....

More Than Papers: How Stetson is Affected by DACA

October 6, 2017

Filed under Campus, News Features

Veronica Faison is the Managing Editor. Additional reporting by Naomi Thomas, Senior Staff Writer. Photographs and illustration by Kitty Geoghan.The following interview is with a Stetson student DACA recipient. His name has been r...

Taking a Stand

Taking a Stand

March 25, 2017

Stetson’s new Title IX coordinator on the federal investigation, outreach, and her role on campus

March 3, 2017

Filed under Campus

On Feb. 14, I sat down with Catherine “Cathy” Downes, Stetson’s new Title IX coordinator and executive director. Vice President for Campus Life and Student Success Dr. Lua Hancock announced Downes hiring in an email on Jan. 27. Below is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation, touching on a number of topics related to the federal investigation Stetson is currently under and how she sees her job shaping up. How have your first few weeks at Stetson been?It's been very busy. It's been really really good. Everyone has been super nice, very excited that I'm here. It has really been quite busy. Just trying to put names and faces together in terms of daily operations, who do you call for this and who you call for that. It's been good but as you can see [gestures towards her office] I'm not quite unpacked yet. What are your exact responsibilities?As the Title IX executive director and Title IX coordinator, my job is to make sure that we as a university are properly implementing and in compliance with the federal laws surrounding Title IX, and in this case because they’re so closely tied together CLERY, parts of the CLERY Act, which include the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). So all of those things have different elements of education and prevention elements, reporting elements, procedural elements in terms of when you receive a report what do you do with it as well as writings of the policies and such. I will have this overarching 300,000 foot view of what's happening on this campus as well as the Gulfport campus and the centers in Tampa and Celebration to make sure that we are in compliance with federal laws and regulations. And once we know the all of that is done and done properly, moving into what else can we do to make it better because meeting the requirements is quite a lot of elements that you have to do to make sure that you're in compliance. Last fall the Department of Education launched an investigation based on a student’s complaint. Can you talk to us at all about that?Well I can't tell you, obviously I wasn't involved or any of that. I can tell you that the university did what was asked of them which is, when the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) sends a letter saying there's been a complaint filed against you they list the things that you have to do and that they need to get. It's kind of like an audit of your system. They want to look at your prevention measures, they want to read your policies, and they’ll look into anything related to that specific case, and they’ll look at other cases. So they’ll ask for information about your records that show what cases you responded to and they'll give you a timeframe that they want to see stuff from. So that is kind of the first stage of responding to that letter. And so that all occurred before I started, but we did respond. So it’s kind of a wait and see what the Office of Civil Rights does next. They may do phone interviews, they may come to campus, they may not do anything for a while. Right now they have, I think I just heard last week, something like almost 300 open cases. And I'm sure there are some that are more complex, the complaints are more complex and there are some that are less complex than what the Stetson case is. Right now we're kind of in that holding pattern to see what they want next. And when you came in was there a briefing about that or were you, when you interviewed for the job were they sort of like “hey by the way this is going on”?Well I actually knew about it. I saw it in the local newspaper. And then Dr. Hancock was, she was very open from the beginning. She said “if weren’t aware from the local news, this complaint was filed and we're responding to it.” Of course the time I interview I was not employed so I was not privy to any of that information. That would have been inappropriate. And since I have come on board I have had access to what was turned over to the Office of Civil Rights so that I can begin to read and see how the university responded. It's likely that when they’re at the next step they will request to meet or speak with me, depending on how they handle the investigation. But so far you haven't met or spoken with them?No I have not, no. I assume you plan on cooperating fully?Oh of course yes. And you know from what I can tell the team here that put all the information together, ‘cause it is a lot a lot of information, did a really good job in a really short period of time and it's going to take time for the Office of Civil Rights to sift through all of that. Do you have any idea how long you personally expect this to take?I really don't. My best guess is that the next stages will occur within the next 6 months. Meaning they will speak with the university officials or try to meet or say something within the next 6 months. And then depending on what they learn will kind of dictate what they do next. So that's my best guess. At my previous institution we had a complaint filed and after our documents were submitted it was six months before they did a phone interview and then it was like another 9 months before you heard anything after phone interviews. So it all depends on how this particular regional office handles it. Is there any worry that the student completely leaves Stetson before it's all said and done?That's always a concern with a student who has been identified as a victim of anything, whether it's a theft or bullying or something as serious as a sexual assault. It's something you're always concerned about and want to be sure that we put in measures to assist that student, depending on what that is. If it's extensions for academics, extending deadlines that they might have missed because they were caught up in an investigation or if it’s just counseling services or things like that. Whatever their concern is we try to make sure that we have resources for that person. and we provide them with a university support person who can kind of and help them navigate those different areas because sometimes you don't know what what you need, you don't know what your options are, or you don't fully understand or you think I'm fine going to classes and then you suddenly realize that you have missed three assignments. And so that becomes really overwhelming and rather than say to someone “Gosh I don't know what I'm going to do because I'm behind” you just try to keep catching up which can cause more stress. So it very much depends on the individual. I would say yeah I would be concerned if she were contemplating leaving the university and it was directly related to this. I would hope that she would reach out to her university support person and speak up, say I need some assistance here and see what we can do to help her. There may be times when that person still feels like the best thing for them is to leave, but I think you know we always want our students to feel safe on campus. Have you been in contact with the student?You know, I have not. And I think it's important to note that sometimes when you keep contacting someone that has been the victim of a crime that is a form of revictimization. I want to respect her privacy and whatever heard as I was there. I don't know how public my information is, I mean you know you found me, so I think that anybody that wanted to come in and speak with me I'm happy to do that. I'm happy to meet with any student and talk about what their needs and concerns are. Does your office plan on, as things developed in the investigation, releasing information regarding it to the student body?I don't think that we would. I think it depends on what OCR determines, What they want to do, Because some of that will be public information. Similar to when we received the complaint, the university put out a statement. And so much of what goes into one of these investigations is confidential. So it kind of depends. I would say that if there are sanctions or fines or things of that nature against the university that would be public domain and I would imagine we’d probably put a statement out. But we're not going to get ahead of the game. You said you dealt with a case at a previous institution. The Department of Education and the Office of Civil Rights is changing because of the new administration. Do you think there will be any differences in how the previous administration handled this case and how this one does, especially considering that the case was launched in the final months of the previous administration.They have their own procedures to follow. So they'll follow those procedures regardless. I think you're more likely to see a difference in any new cases that are filed, but they are still bound by whatever policies and procedures they had in place at the time the complaint was filed. So that's what they'll have to follow. Now how harsh their sanctioning might be if they came to a finding ff this or that and they come to a sanctioning phase, they sometimes do just a resolution agreement. A resolution agreement is when they say “well it looks like you haven’t met this part, you haven’t implemented this part of VAWA. So if you could change that part of your policy and implement this procedure, if you agree to do that then we'll consider this a resolution”. A lot of times it's things like that. It's your much bigger cases like your Penn State, the University of Minnesota, things like that, Occidental College is another one, where there might be fines and heavy sanctions against the university. But most cases end with what they call a resolution agreement and that is when the university agrees to maybe implement certain education, maybe rewrite a policy, that kind of thing. Similar to a consent decree between the Justice Department and a police department.Something like that. Do you expect to the student herself will be contacted by the Office of Civil Rights, or will they be working just through the school?No I'm pretty sure that they will reach out to the complaining party. That's what my experience was in the past, they did reach out to that individual that filed a complaint to update them. Maybe after reading all of our material they might have questions about the complaint that she fired. I'm not 100% sure what all they would do but again their objective is to look into the complaint and see if the complaint has merit, if there are legitimate things the university should be doing differently as a result of this complaint that was filed and if so what would that be, what would that look like. Speaking more generally, having been here a few weeks and looking at your job and our policies are there things that you think that we should be doing differently?I think it's a little premature for me to say. Right now what I can say is that for me I feel like I know where to go for the policies and procedures. I know much of the prevention work that's being done and so I feel like those things are happening and there might be tweaks in the policies or procedures but right now I feel pretty good where it is. But that's the kind of thing that I'll know better once I see it working, because as you know it's many pages of information when you start reading the policies, and the definitions, and the procedures. Something can look right on paper but then when it's actually implemented it may look different. So I need to see that process from beginning to end a couple times before I can make any kind of decisions like that. But I have a lot of respect for [Director of Student Development and Campus Vibrancy] Matt Kurtz and for [Director of Community Standards] Jess Varga and Dr. Hancock and Dean [of Students Lynn] Schoenberg who have been managing both of these cases. They have done a very good job from everything that I've read and I feel like their policies and stuff are really solid. Are there places to improve? Of course. There’s is always places to improve. I do think that there does seem to be a lot of questions or concerns or just a lack of knowledge about Title IX among the student body and I can see where that's something that I can be doing right away. I've had many many student meetings actually already to talk with students about what Title IX is and how it applies to them you know whether they know it or don't know it and how they can learn about it better. Have those been individual meetings?Mhm. Are student requesting those with you or?Yeah just like you did. They all have different reasons for wanting to know the information. I hope that as I become better known and I know the campus more I will have the opportunity to meet with different student clubs or organizations or departments or whatever, particularly those that are active and involved in this kind of prevention work. Do you have any plans on hosting a campus-wide event?Probably. I'm still in that very early stage of figuring things out. But I think we'll be doing some outreach and trying to figure out the best way to do that. It might be a large campus-wide event. It might be a more intimate one-on-one, more casual, meet and greet type of thing. Depending on what kind of questions people have someone that would be appropriate in a large event and some of that would not be appropriate in a large event. So I kind of envision there being a variety of different ways that I would reach the student body and the rest of campus to because it is dependent on everybody. One last question. what brought you to Stetson?Well I live in the area. I had been at Embry-Riddle. I’ve done Title IX work from before we really were calling it Title IX. This seemed like a great opportunity. It was very clear to me by the the way the position was designed, that it was a position overarching the different campuses, that this was something that Stetson was committed to. That was very important to me so I said well here's an opportunity for me to focus on an area I'm very passionate about, do some really good work, and help another university do it well, better than they're already doing it. At the same time I didn't have to pack up my family and move, that was a bonus. I'm very happy to be here and I think that there will be some very exciting and good things that come out of my ideas and blending them together with the students’ ideas and the folks who've already been doing this work. I think we're going to do some really great things. I guess I have a second last question and if it's too personal don't answer it. Why are you passionate about this work?Well I kind of fell into it. I was in Virginia previously, and when I was in Virginia the term date rape had just kind of been identified after, I don't know how much background you know, but there was a case at William & Mary, the College of William and Mary, Katie Koestner. It was a very big case of sexual assault and that's when they started calling it acquaintance rape or date rape. So the governor at the time developed a task force so all the schools in Virginia kind of fell in line with these recommendations and guidelines. So I started working it there. I just saw how devastating it could be when people go through a process that's not fair or that is a slow process or they don't know where to go and so I thought you know I can, this is stuff that I do well and I've always been very passionate about students so it was kind of a nice combination. I’ve worked with students from all aspects from housing and residential life to alcohol education, sexual assault prevention, conduct, ethics, I mean I have done a lot of work with college students and I think that they are a big part of the solution. I think we’ve got to start younger, in high school and middle schools, but I think the college students are really key in that. And I do love working with college students and being on a college campus. I think it’s a very exciting place to work around because you're looking at a lot of people who are focused on their dreams and a potential and that's exciting to me.

“Diversity Is Not a Check Box”

Concerned students call on Stetson to uphold its promises of inclusivity.

March 3, 2017

Filed under Campus, News Features

In front of the Carlton Union Building, a banner hung that asked the question, “Are we signifcant?” during the first week of February. The word “significant” was misspelled, missing an “I,” and the hashtag #diversityisn...

The federal government is investigating Stetson’s Title IX process

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights will be investigating Stetson’s Title IX process after receiving a complaint related to a Spring 2016 sexual assault case.

March 3, 2017

Filed under Campus

 The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights will be investigating Stetson’s Title IX process after receiving a complaint related to a Spring 2016 sexual assault case. President Libby announced the investiga...

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