Grand Rapids Community College will be represented for the second year in a row in First Lady Sue Snyder’s Campus Sexual Assault Workgroup with the reappointment of Kimberly DeVries, GRCC’s Title IX coordinator and director of equal opportunity compliance.
DeVries was reappointed on May 29 along with 12 other original members and three new members of the community including police officers, prosecuting attorneys and other Title IX coordinators from neighboring colleges and universities. A full list of the workgroup’s members can be found here.
The variety of the qualified individuals who make up the workgroup is no coincidence, DeVries notes. Members are from varied professional backgrounds working together to help victims of sexual assault.
“The goal is to have people who deal with Title IX sexual assault issues but from various perspectives,” DeVries said. “So, some who deal more with victim advocacy, some who deal with Title IX, some who do criminal work, some who do prosecutors work and that sort of thing.”
DeVries emphasizes the importance of the diversity of the group in helping victims.
“Its focus is on sexual assault on college campuses or affecting college students, but one of the goals is to look at the intersection where Title IX intersects with criminal processes,” DeVries said. “So if the Title IX case was also a criminal sexual assault we would contact, if the victim wanted us to, local police, GRCC police for us, and then police wherever the jurisdiction is where it happened. So that is the reason they have some of that community police involvement is so that we can get that information since their experience is obviously different than specifically what we’re doing at a college. Then prosecutors (are in the group) so if something ended up going to court, the prosecutor would kind of speak to what would happen there.”
The goal of the workgroup is to inform sexual assault survivors of their resources and options as well as raising awareness of campus sexual assault.
“The first lady (Sue Snyder) was really trying to focus on increasing resources for survivors, increasing awareness of sexual assault on campus and most of this work has been specifically around sexual assault,” DeVries said. “So looking at resources sexual assault survivors need, police resources, court resources, anything like that. So that was the focus initially.”
The workgroup was first asked to create a resource guide for survivors which was presented at the Inform. Empower. Prevent. Summit in September 2017 in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
The “Let’s End Campus Sexual Assault: A Resource Handbook for Campus Sexual Assault Survivors, Friends and Family” guidebook has information for survivors and loved ones. The handbook covers what sexual assault is, how to find support and help, medical help, reporting sexual assault and more.
At GRCC, the handbook can be found in print form in the Student Life office or in the Title IX office.
This year, the group has been tasked with two projects that focus on best practices when it comes to sexual assault crimes and what colleges should be doing. According to the press release regarding the reappointments, the two projects for this year are:
- A model to pilot a network of regional investigation centers to review and resolve reports of sexual misconduct on campuses. The workgroup will consult with experts who have developed similar models for consideration by other states; and
- Develop a framework of prevention best practices colleges and universities can implement on campus.
“One of them is focusing on best practices for sexual assault with crime, what colleges should be doing, that sort of thing,” DeVries said. “And the other focus is the idea of regional groups that would help colleges respond to sexual assault.”
The reappointment to the group is an honor for DeVries and something she says she’s looking forward to another year of work.
“I’m excited,” she said. “It’s exciting to see the work that we’ve done across the state and to see all the different perspectives on the work that we do that’s similar because, you know, all of us are trying to address sexual assault violence on our campuses. And, obviously, all of our campuses are different, so we’re doing it a little different way. So it’s interesting to see what everyone else is doing, what best practices are, to hear from folks who are in the criminal realm, hear from folks who are in the victim advocate world and then other Title IX coordinators who are doing the same work that I do, but doing it at different schools. So it looks a little bit different, so that’s kind of fun. And it’s obviously an honor to be asked to work on a group that the first lady is heading.”
The work DeVries and the other members of the workgroup are doing impacts students at GRCC as well as the other campuses across Michigan. At GRCC, students needing information or to report and on-campus sexual assault can go to the Title IX office and speak with DeVries or any GRCC deputy coordinator. For DeVries, the most important thing for students to know is that there are options and there is help for victims.
“At GRCC and members of the group take these issues very seriously – sexual assault, sexual violence, sex-based discrimination – and one of the real goals of the group, and certainly our goal on campus is to make sure people have the resources to deal with that, make sure they know where they can go – they can come to me, they can go to Student Life, they can go to faculty if they need to, they can go to police, obviously to help them deal with if they’re dealing with that situation – to help address those,” DeVries said. “So that’s really a goal across Michigan… what we want is for people to know is that if they’re experiencing sexual assault, sexual harassment, sex-based discrimination, that there’s places to go and people who can help you, and you don’t have to deal with that.”
For more information on GRCC’s Title IX office, how to file a complaint, information for staff or how to contact the office, visit the Title IX page on GRCC’s website.