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Administrator educates Senate on sexual assault

Maddie Daly | Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dr. Bill Stackman, associate vice president of student services, visited the Student Senate during this week’s meeting and spoke on his role in Notre Dame’s sexual assault policies.

New to Notre Dame this year, Stackman has spent 31 years working with sexual harassment at a variety of schools, most recently Texas A&M University.  His current role is the Deputy Title IX coordinator, which means he is the point person for all reports of sexual assault at Notre Dame.  

“Title IX is about equality on college campuses, especially concerning athletics,” Stackman said.  “Due to the [Department of Education’s] Office of Civil Rights, every university is required to take immediate action [on allegations of sexual assault], meaning we have 60 days to complete the process [of investigation].  You can imagine if you are a victim or on the side of an accused it can be pretty daunting, so the last thing they want this thing to do is go on forever.”

Stackman said it is not enough to just have a handbook or a website; universities have to educate the campus on how to report.

“My job is to reach out to students of concern all the time,” Stackman said.  “We flag students who are struggling, whom we heard about through a rector, a faculty member or students themselves and reach out to provide support.”

Stackman said sexual assault policies are not the same across the board and need to be defined at each university. At Notre Dame, reports can be made from a variety of sources, including NDSP, rectors, faculty, students, coaches and parents, and after a report, Stackman said he assigns a Sexual Assault Resource Coordinator (SARC) to both the complainant and the accused.

Student body vice president Katie Rose added that student are not obliged by the honor code to report sexual assault and can generally be considered confidential sources, but those acting in certain roles, such as Resident Assistants, are required to pass reports to the Deputy Title IX coordinator.

Students can find more information about which sources can remain confidential and which cannot through the Center for Sexual Assault Prevention. Once a report has been made, Stackman said the SARC will help guide students through the Notre Dame’s process of investigation.

“Often students don’t know where to go in this situation,” Stackman said.  “The SARC is to provide them with this type of support. In addition, we ask each person involved to not have contact with the other person [who is accused of assault] until further notice. This includes physical contact, communication and communication between friends.”

Stackman said.  Since being at Notre Dame, Stackman has handled 20 cases in his capacity as Deputy Title IX coordinator. Eight of those cases involved complainants who were unwilling to share, meaning they came forward to an extent but did not give the name of the accuser to take the case further, Stackman said.  In addition, five out of the 20 complainants were males, and two involved sexual intercourse. Sixteen of the 20 cases involved alcohol.

“This is an administrative process, it is not a court of law,” Stackman said.  “We have room to make this our own, and we’re always looking for ways to make it better.”

Rose said the reason for this presentation was the clear up the misinformation that is widespread across campus.  

“I’ve heard stories from people who have been witnesses or accused and nobody seems satisfied, no one knows the actual process,” Rose said.  “Now it should be clear that if something does come up in your dorm or with your friends you can know the process and know that it’s a stringent one that is the same across the board.”

Sitting in on the session were the newly elected student body president and vice president Alex Coccia and Nancy Joyce, introduced at the beginning of the meeting by current student body president Brett Rocheleau. They will assume their offices in April.