Karla Benson Rutten, Title IX Coordinator and Director of Equity, and Laura Linder-Scholer, Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator, both exhibit pride for their new positions.
These positions were created to, “respond to increasing awareness and concern about the prevention and response to sexual violence and other civil rights on campuses.” Benson Rutten has the job of “following up with reports of Title IX complaints, whether it is from a student, staff or a formal complaint.”
Benson Rutten focuses on the students, as the goal is to help them find the best options moving forward after a complaint. Resources also include helping students find safe spaces like the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life and the Health and Wellness Center. “It’s about laying down the options they have depending on their situation. Students get to decide what happens next,” Benson Rutten said.
More students have reported complaints and concerns since the creation of Benson Rutten’s position. She attributes this to giving students the freedom to drive the conversation, while also spreading the word on resources to the Mac community. Linder-Scholer has also facilitated this process.
As the first Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator, Linder-Scholer works with staff, students and orgs to create programs that teach sexual assault prevention. Green Dot, a national program, has been relaunched on campus to train students about making a difference as a bystander. Linder-Scholer commented, “It is hard to shift campus culture alone, but with a program like this, students come together to make change.” In the future, both Linder-Scholer and Benson Rutten hope to invite guest speakers to organize discussions. Topics they will cover include supporting friends, bullying, having healthy relationships and engaging men in the conversation of sexual violence and abuse. A new program from trainings was the “It’s On Us” campaign, which is another national campaign Macalester has adopted. This is meant “to mobilize and inspire our community to stand up and take action against sexual and domestic violence on our campus,” as stated in the video.
This past January, the Sexual Prevention Working Group was created to aid Benson Rutten and Linder-Scholer in getting a “lead on culture climate on campus.” 15 students and staff members were selected based on recommendations, interests in social justice and sexual violence prevention. This group reviews Title IX policies, programming and other aspects in which the campus can become better informed on sexual violence prevention.
The Sexual Violence Prevention Program is an opportunity for “the campus to grow and learn to create a safe campus for everyone.” Nevertheless, both program coordinators always look for more ways to “engage with people on campus who do this kind of work already. We look at how we can involve those who might also see it as a social justice problem.”
“People don’t look at policies until something happens,” Benson Rutten notes. “That is why we try to make our policies as clear as possible, gain input from the community and keep the conversation going. People are sometimes surprised at how open we are about talking about these issues. But people like to just reach out when they have any concerns, too.”
The objective for Benson Rutten and Linder-Scholar is to create avenues for students and staff that are comfortable and easy to navigate when dealing with issues of sexual violence and abuse. This includes updated webpages for Title IX and Sexual Violence Prevention that give insight to the process of reporting sexual violence and abuse, resources available for victims and literature on policies and definitions that Macalester has adopted.
For more information about Title IX policies, access to a report form and contact information, visit macalester.edu/titleix. For more on prevention, rights, resources, facts and definitions of sexual violence, visit macalester.edu/violenceprevention.