Fulfilling Federal Mandates Part 2: Dominican College Uses MyStudentBody In Title IX Compliance

In the first part of this series, we discussed the “Dear Partner” letter, which announced that campus drug abuse programs would be falling under increased scrutiny by the US Department of Education and the Office of National Drug Control Policy. We suggested ways that college and university administrators can step up the drug prevention programs on their campuses. In the second part of this series, we invite you to find out more about how MyStudentBody can help schools respond to another part of these new federal mandates, which was outlined in the recently distributed “Dear Colleague” letter.

Dominican College, in Orangeburg, NY, is a small college in the Catholic tradition serving about 1,800 students with professional programs in teacher education, athletic training, social work, business administration, and the health care professions of nursing and occupational and physical therapy. In addition to over 30 programs of study, the college also has a strong athletic program, sponsoring 12 intercollegiate sports in NCAA Division II.

According to Dominican College’s Prevention and Education Coordinator, Eileen A. Piccininni, MA, LPC, CASAC, CEAP, the “Dear Colleague” letter issued by the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights last April means all US colleges will be looking more uniformly at how they handle sexual assault complaints. The letter, which the White House has declared a “significant guidance document”, reiterated schools’ obligation under Title IX to deal with sexual harassment as unlawful discrimination, and detailed the process by which institutions should respond to sexual assault complaints.

“The ‘Dear Colleague’ letter specifically references issues around sexual violence,” Piccininni says. “Every campus will be reviewing and improving methods for promoting healthy and safe environments through educating students about sexual violence issues.”

Dominican has used MyStudentBody for the past five years as part of its alcohol abuse prevention education, and began using the Essentials course, which covers sexual violence as well as alcohol and drug use, last year. Piccininni finds it an effective tool for Title IX training and documentation. “Proactively, we’ve assigned MyStudentBody Essentials as part of the curriculum for our year-long Freshman Seminar,” she says. “I also use it when I have students who violate the alcohol and other drug policy.”

As part of an educational sanction for students who violate the policy, Piccininni requires completion of either the Essentials Course or the Student Conduct Course. Piccininni has also assigned the sexual violence component of Essentials course to students whose relationships show warning signs of dating violence or potential abuse. “These courses help to increase the culture of respect for self and respect for others, instilling the importance of being an active bystander and of a shared responsibility for the safest and most healthy learning environment possible,” she explains.

And at Dominican, MyStudentBody isn’t just for students. “Every administrator in student services has been asked by our Dean of Students to take and pass the Essentials course,” Piccininni says. “We’ve recommended that faculty and other staff take it as well.”

Fulfilling Federal Mandates Part 1: Drug Prevention and the Biennial Review

To remain eligible for federal education funds, institutions of higher education must comply with mandates aimed at preventing alcohol and drug abuse, violence, exploitation, and discrimination. “Dear Partner” and “Dear Colleague” letters carry the force of law and may upend the interpretation of existing requirements. In this two-part series, we look at two recent communications from federal regulators, and how MyStudentBody can help institutions respond.

On September 23, the US Department of Education (DOE) joined forces with the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in a “Dear Partner” letter to college and university administrators announcing that under the 2011 National Drug Control Strategy, campus drug abuse prevention programs would fall under increased scrutiny.

Schools have been required to provide prevention programs under Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) Part 86 (the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Act) since 1990. But on many campuses, alcohol is the primary concern. The September letter emphasized drug abuse prevention and treatment in a new way, calling for systematic early identification and treatment of students with substance abuse disorders and increased partnership with college-level recovery programs.

The letter also explicitly pointed out the requirement to cover drug abuse programs and sanctions in the upcoming Part 86 biennial review. As you assemble your report over the next year, keep in mind that the DOE is looking for evidence that your program actively addresses illegal drug use. If drug prevention hasn’t been an emphasis on your campus in recent years, now is the time to make sure your program goals and strategies include it.

  • Both laws and medical knowledge change, sometimes rapidly. Make sure the drug messages in your annual notification are up to date.
  • President Obama has set a goal of reducing illegal drug use in the US by 10% over the next 5 years. Consider a similar goal for your campus.
  • If you survey your students or staff as part of your biennial review process, be sure to include questions on both drug and alcohol use and treatment.
  • The review requires you to recommend revisions, so if you find your program falls short in its approach to drugs, investigate ways to more effectively promote the DOE/ONDCP goals going forward.

Also make the most of any tools and data you currently use that do address drug use. The drugs section in MyStudentBody Essentials provides prevention education on both prescription and illicit drug abuse, and MyStudentBody Admin reports data that can help you assess the prevalence and severity of drug abuse on your campus.