Key Takeaways from Proceeding in Partnership 2013

On Wednesday, October 16, 2013 the Clery Center hosted its 2013 Proceeding In Partnership conference in San Antonio, Texas. Over 125 participants joined the Clery Center to dialogue with experts and each other about campus safety challenges and opportunities impacting higher education.

The day began with a keynote presentation by Kristina Anderson, one of the most critically injured survivors of the April 2007 Virginia Tech tragedy and founder of the Koshka Foundation. Anderson detailed her experience during the active school shooting, as well as her transition back into the university.

“I couldn’t control what happened that day, but I could control what I did afterwards,” said Anderson, who offered thoughtful recommendations for how institutions can best support survivors.

Response to Anderson’s remarks was overwhelmingly positive. In feedback surveys, many noted how moved they were by her words, including one participant who commented that it was “a very compelling program and Kristina’s story was so moving to me. She was exceptional.” Another attendee agreed, and added that Kristina’s story “motivated me to reevaluate my own response level.”

Following the keynote was a panel on active shooters on campus featuring Tom Komola (MIT), Jim Walters (Southern Methodist University), and Cary Anderson (St. Joseph’s University.) Panel moderator Berkly Trumbo of Siemens Industry highlighted recent incidents in higher education and asked panelists to share insight as to how their institutions to responded to some of these high-profile cases.

“After-action reviews are key,” said Komola. Walters reinforced the need for local partnerships when planning for and responding to active shooters, while Anderson offered a student life perspective to crisis communications.

Gina Maisto Smith and Leslie Gomez of Pepper Hamilton LLP presented the plenary session on coordinated and integrated response to sexual misconduct. They started by asking participants to write down what “keeps [them] up at night” related to dealing with sexual misconduct cases on campus and then weaved these concerns into the discussion.

“The only way we’ll change culture, climate, and policies is through conversation,” said Gomez. The presentation called on institutions to create approaches and policies that are thoughtful but allow for the complexities that appear in cases involving sexual violence.

The day ended with a panel on lessons learned from government reviews and assessment. The panel, featuring Steven Healy (Margolis Healy and Associates), Gabe Gates (Penn State University), and Pamela Heatlie (University of Michigan), offered takeaways about how institutions should approach Clery and Title IX compliance.

Gates spoke of the critical need for institutional buy-in and records retention, and told the audience, “If you’re proactive with training and resources, your crime stats will go up.”

Heatlie reinforced this point, sharing a story of her own experience on campus, and reminded institutions to promote the work that they’re doing and the expectations they’ve set for their programs.

“There’s always someone else at your institution that cares about this as much as you do,” said Healy, emphasizing the importance of collaboration in compliance efforts. “Find them.”

During the event, the Clery Center also presented the 2012 Jeanne Clery Campus Safety Award to Gail Minger, President of the Michael H. Minger Foundation, for her work providing critical fire safety education to college and university students. Minger dedicated the award to Jeanne Clery and to her son, Michael, who died in an arson fire in his college residence hall in September of 1998.

Throughout the conference, participants took part in roundtables in which they documented institutional practices and challenges related to active shooters and Clery and Title IX compliance. The Clery Center plans to release a preliminary report within the next few weeks summarizing the conversations and insights gained during this year’s events.

 

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