CWU Safe Group holds open forum


Wildcat statue, Photo by Megan Rogers

Morgana Carroll and Megan Rogers

CWU’s Safe Group held an open forum on May 15 for CWU’s community members to review recommendations created by the group. The open forum meeting served as an opportunity to present the goals that the team had created and get feedback from students and community members. 

The workgroup was established in response to student and community protests regarding instances of Title IX violations in late 2022. (See past coverage: “Cats Against Assault claims lack of accountability in Title IX cases on campus.”)

According to Chief of Staff and Vice President of Public Affairs Andrew Morse, the goal of the workgroup was to understand the strengths, processes, practices and resources of CWU as well as how the university could better grow to live up to its mission of being a “model of equity and belonging.”

“The goal of this work is to also create a safe space for our students and our employees. Nobody should be hindered by victimization as they pursue their educational, professional and personal life goals,” Morse said. 

According to the presentation given at the forum, the group came up with recommendations for accountability and sustainability, policies, survivor support and education.

Morse said they looked at the university’s current Title IX, Violence Against Women Act and the Clery Act and had an opportunity to talk with campus experts about the matter. He said they are now awaiting the release of new Title IX regulations. 

During the meeting, Co-chair for the Safe Group and Director of Wellness Center, Marissa Howat, said that one of the recommendations was for students to have a required education course. According to the presentation, the training will be a “required consent, bystander intervention and campus resources prior to students registering for their first class.” 

Howat said that this training is called Voices for Change and will be required for every incoming student at CWU.

DEC Program Manager Justin Santoli said he had concerns regarding accessibility for students to finish Voices for Change during the meeting. 

“[We need to be] conscious of students who don’t have tech or English isn’t their first language,” Santoli said at the meeting. 

Santoli suggested during the meeting that the training should be due by the end of the quarter instead of before registering for classes. 

Another recommendation Co-chair of the Safe Group and Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Cindy Coe, said at the meeting that the group is strongly recommending more required training for employees than has been required of them in the past to help create more accountability. 

Coe said they want to ensure there is documentation of the investigation and the results of the investigation faculty undergoes to ensure accountability and transparency. 

Howat said, from her understanding, this documentation will not go in their personnel file but will be put into a separate investigation file. 

“Personnel records are sealed so those are actually not available in a public records request, but investigative reports can be attainable [through a public records request],” Howat said. 

Two more open forum meetings will be held on May 25 1-2 p.m. in SURC 301 and May 31 4-4:45 p.m. virtually.