Compliance is Not That Complicated!

 

The Alchemy Enterprise Approach to Compliance

 When it comes to compliance, what is critical is having a workable compliance system in place. At Alchemy, we can walk you through the steps of building a workable compliance system in the easiest most painless fashion, starting with a top-down initiative that spirals through the organization organically growing into a transformative movement.

 Compliance – It’s Complicated, but It Doesn’t have to be

There are so many laws, regulations and guidances that have an impact upon how higher education is expected to deal with sexual assault and intimate violence on college campuses. There is Title IX of the Education Act of 1972, the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, (Campus SaVE Act) which is incidentally, a part of the  Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act,  which then spurred amendments to the Jeanne Clery Act. Also, let’s not forget the April 2011  “Dear Colleague” letter, which identifies a host of responsibilities, to be undertaken by a (often newly appointed) Title IX coordinator.

In this “Dear Colleague” letter, the Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights highly recommends that every institution of higher education appoint at least one individual into a Title IX coordinator full-time position for the express purpose of overseeing compliance efforts in the area of sexual assault and intimate violence.

Also, on April 29, 2014, the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault released a report entitled, Not Alone. This report contains a number of recommendations and action items which, institutions of higher education are expected to implement in order to combat sexual assault and intimate violence.  The problems presented by a need to be in compliance with so many laws can be pretty complex.  Proposed solutions involving all these numerous and sometimes conflicting, laws, guidances and recommendations seem complicated.

But this cannot get too complicated because the moment that happens any attempts to actually solve the problem become ineffective. This is where Alchemy Enterprises can help. We take the complicated and we simplify it. With all this information that is coming at you, whether you be a Title IX coordinator, a Provost, a Vice President of Student Affairs, a Sorority President, a Fraternity President, A Student Activist, or a member of the PanHellenic council, or Student Government, Alchemy Enterprises can help.  We understand that you need to understand the issues and your responsibilities with regard to them and then you need to do something. And not just anything, but the right thing. And that’s where Alchemy Enterprises can help.

 Why Choose AE for Compliance?

 As with any area of compliance there are risks associated with noncompliance. With regard to Title IX sexual misconduct and intimate violence, the risks associated with noncompliance can be substantial.  For institutions that have been caught in a noncompliance mode, the consequences have been, million dollar law suit settlements, unrest and discord amongst the student body, local and even national scandal, and loss of competent administrators who are forced to resign because of inappropriate actions and behaviors taken during what is often a very difficult time for all parties involved.

Navigating through allegations involving sexual misconduct and to a lesser degree, intimate violence is wrought with so many difficulties. It’s like walking through a figurative minefield. This is why setting up compliance systems that run smoothly, before such allegations are received are critical to moving through that process effectively. These are the products that Alchemy Enterprises offers – compliance and prevention products and services that create the map that navigates through the minefield.

Every institution should have certain compliance systems in place, but how well do they really work? Institutions often learn through trial and error what is working and what’s not. Even worse, organizations are forced to learn though embarrassing media coverage that explodes the issue into the national spotlight in ways that are unproductive and very harmful for the organization; and yet, most times this is what is required before an organization is truly willing to address failures in compliance. Don’t wait until then. Get ahead of the curve. Alchemy Enterprises offers a relatively painless and easy framework to begin analyzing your institutions Title IX compliance policies effectiveness in the area of sexual misconduct and intimate violence.

There are quite a few consulting groups that offer services to higher education. What makes AE different from the rest?  There are three things that immediately distinguish AE from all the rest:

  1. We are highly specialized

 

  1. We are systematic and innovative.

 

  1. We are high quality and value-driven

 

AE’s Mission

It is AE’s mission to transform the systems used in higher education to bring about Title IX compliance, by partnering with our clients to provide high quality compliance systems, in a way that is consistent with our values which are: partnership, innovation, transformation, integrity, creativity and respect for the Individual the Institution, the World.

The Benefits of Specialization

We know how to do the right thing. How do we know?  Because we are specialized in this area, which means we think about how to accomplish the right thing, all the time, considering the latest and greatest best practices that are occurring in this area. Many higher Ed consulting groups are specialized in higher ed risk management, but are not specialized in sexual assault and intimate violence. The requirements to address the sexual assault and intimate violence on campus are fairly new- so it’s safe to say that no higher ed consultants are going to be all that specialized in these areas of compliance. But at Alchemy, we are. At Alchemy many of our associates have worked in disciplines that have provided them with direct experience with sexual harassment, sexual assault and intimate violence.

Most higher education administrators are responsible for ensuring that a number of areas that interact and intersect are running smoothly. Do they have time to stay abreast of every single new case, new ruling, and new big media story on campus sexual assault or intimate violence? Do they have the time to keep abreast of all of the latest and greatest practices regarding diversity and inclusion in the realm of higher ed.? Not likely.  Administrators have to spend most of their time attending to the business of running the school.

But even if they did have time to spare to devote to these issues, much of the compliance material in these areas is obtuse and unnecessarily legalistic.  Who wants to spend their time reading between all of these convoluted lines? No one really, but at Alchemy Enterprises we’ve done it for you.  It was our job to do it so we did. We are specialized and current in these areas of federal law, guidance and recommendations, so that your administrators don’t have to be. We also work very hard to stay abreast of the latest trends in these areas. We take in all of the information, thoroughly review it, research it and evaluate it, to bring the most important information directly to you, in an easy to understand concise format.

Innovative Systems

We have also developed systems that work; and let’s be clear- compliance will not work effectively without some kind of system in place. At AE we have developed our own systems approach that is designed to work directly with your current systems.  Our compliance and training systems focus on three areas- all are absolutely critical to compliance-

  1. Policy
  2. Procedure and
  3. Training

Our training systems are innovative in that they are creative, interactive, engaging and hopefully fun! We want all of our clients to feel as though their experience with AE was time well-spent. Therefore, our training sessions do not utilize a lecture format which participants usually forget very shortly after the training session is over.  Instead, our training sessions are interactive based upon what participants want and need to know. At AE, our training is designed to engage our clients in a transformative process that has a ripple effect throughout the entire organization.  A top to bottom roll-out method works best with compliance training. AE will work with your institution to get such a system in place and working effectively and efficiently.

High Quality Value

Our training systems are of a very high quality, which is to say they require a significant investment of time from AE associates as well as our clients.  A high quality compliance system with integrity can only occur when a pretty secure partnership exists between AE and its clients and stakeholders. However, such high quality systems provide tremendous value. Knowing how to effectively manage a situation that could potentially lead to numerous lawsuits and national scandal before such a situation gets out of hand is incredibly valuable. And having a system in place that allows an organization to do the right thing, quickly and efficiently – that is priceless.

While such a system does not come cheap- it definitely is worth what it costs and usually twice that, even three times that and more. Compliance problems are incredibly costly – not just in terms of money, but time. Compliance problems within any system eat up a tremendous amount of time.  Any organization that has had compliance problems in the past, should quickly invest in a compliance system, in order to prevent future compliance problems.

The High Cost of Noncompliance (Don’t Start Here)

 When it comes to compliance, it can be difficult to know where to start, or how to move beyond the initial phase of policy development. Here is where you don’t want to start, with scandal or tragedy. Sadly, that’s usually when most organizations decide to make compliance a priority.

Many schools learn how well its compliance systems work (or don’t work) the hard way.  With regard to sexual assault investigations, Columbia, Harvard, Baylor, Stanford, and the University of Virginia, have had their compliance systems attacked through embarrassing national media attention, which of course causes significant disruption within the institutions themselves and forces almost immediate revision of compliance systems that are deemed ineffective, primarily due to emerging negative public opinion. And this public opinion can be quite scathing.

In a controversial film and companion book, entitled, The Hunting Ground – The Inside Story of Sexual Assault on American College Campuses, campus sexual assault has been described as an epidemic. The underlying premise of the film The Hunting Ground is that many large and well-funded universities are purposefully permitting sexual assault to occur on their campuses, without taking any appropriate or remedial action. It is a controversial position, which many colleges have denied and are challenging, but where any given institution stands with regard to this particular position is largely irrelevant at this point, because the idea has become increasingly pervasive and has spurred a tremendous amount of student activism around this position. This has resulted in many colleges and universities being accused of severe wrong doing, such as violating the rights of victims and protecting perpetrators of sexual assault.  No university wants to be all over the media enmeshed in accusations of turning a blind eye toward rampant sexual assault, or even worse facilitating and encouraging it. What is the best way to deal with these potentially damaging allegations? Be proactive. Understand the issues and develop effective systems to deal with them.

A Policy Review is the Place to Start

Compliance, which, if done correctly, typically involves adopting a set of policies and an accompanying set of procedures, as well as sufficient training of all relevant stakeholders on the new policies and procedures. In order to be most effective, this needs to occur periodically.

Universities must not only adopt policies and procedures that address sexual assault and intimate violence on campus- they must also ensure that what is implemented is effective.  The starting point for compliance involves adopting a set of policies and an accompanying set of procedures, and training all relevant stakeholders on the new policies and procedures, periodically.  AE offers a framework by which a college or university can begin to analyze the efficacy of its own Title IX Sexual Misconduct and Intimate Violence policies and procedures, beginning with an objective review of its current policy. This policy review is absolutely critical as it is necessary to develop institutional comprehension regarding what is working with the policy, what is not and identifying areas where there is room for improvement.

At a minimum, an AE policy review involves AE staff thoroughly reviewing an institution’s current policy, providing a written evaluation of it and discussing the policy review with the university’s Title IX coordinator.

Ideally, this conversation would also include follow – up discussions with at least at least two other executive level administrators, such as the President or Chancellor, The Title IX coordinator, and the Vice President of Student Affairs. With regard to effective implementation- in all actuality- several high level administrators need to be involved at some point. But, AE can certainly begin these preliminary discussions on the policy, with those who have the power and influence to impact the dissemination of the policy through appropriate channels. –

Executive Briefing Is the Next Step

Ideally, everyone who holds any power inside of an institution needs to be briefed on the institutions Title IX Compliance efforts. This effort begins with the President or the Chancellor announcing, in some way shape of form, that compliance efforts are being undertaken, that the compliance efforts are important to the well-being of the institution, and requesting that all of his or her direct reports be knowledgeable about the basic tenets of the compliance efforts which is the policy and procedure.

Everyone reporting to the President or Chancellor needs to understand that the policy is important- that it needs to be read, reviewed, understood and ultimately ingrained into the fabric of the organization. It cannot be overestimated how critical this component is to all institutional compliance efforts. Without this critical next step, a great deal of any subsequent compliance efforts taken on behalf of the university will fail. They will be sabotaged by individuals who misunderstand the compliance efforts or fundamentally take issue with the compliance efforts because of their own values.

Even with the imprimatur of the President or Chancellor of the University, compliance efforts can still be sabotaged. This, however, is much less likely to occur with a sound policy and very detailed procedures in place. This is why a policy review is the best place for an institution to begin its compliance efforts. There is a method to compliance; and not following that methodology is a lot like building a house on shifting sands. Many gains are lost when a steady foundation is not established in the beginning.

A Roll Out of the W Series- A Problem Solving Approach – Keeps the Momentum Going

However, once a steady foundation has been established via the policy review and the executive briefing, the Institution is ready to keep that momentum going by rolling-out training systems that will organically grow a transformation movement that will bring the institution into a compliance mode- and effectively deal with the kinds of growing pains that cultural transformations inevitably cause.

Institutions of Higher Learning are incredibly complex organizations that have many different audiences needing to be informed and aware of the laws, guidances and recommendations regarding sexual assault and intimate violence for many different reasons.

Alchemy Enterprises has developed training products that are easy to understand and highly customizable, and yet, up to the task of delivering extremely complicated content in this arena that is- sexual misconduct and intimate violence.

 

The W- Series

Our W series training products accomplish this in a highly accessible, easy to understand and implement formula that can be rolled out organization – wide and to several different types of audiences and participants.

Through its W training series, Alchemy Enterprise has developed a framework that works with all topics and all different groups due to its conceptual simplicity- which is – problem solving. For most of the training series participants are asked to define what the current problem is and agree upon the best ways in which to approach solutions.

This works because the W series does not confront or accuse the current organizational culture, but rather invites it into a line of inquiry and a discussion, which will allow the current culture to collectively establish the new norms and appropriate dialogue and action. That has to be created in order to meet new compliance requirements. The W series does this using a problem solving methodology, framed around a series of questions.

No matter what the topic is: Intimate Violence, Sexual Assault, Affirmative Consent, Safe- Spaces, Administrative Investigations, the Implementation of Policy and Procedure, and any other topic that you may want to tackle,  Alchemy Enterprises, approaches the topic, through a series of What, Why, When, Who questions such as:

What is it?

What is the solution to the Problem?

What is your particular interest or what specific role do you play in solving the problem?

What can you do to solve this problem?

Who else can be of assistance in solving the problem?

What kind of resistance will you encounter with regard to your ability to solve the problem, and from whom?

What resources will you need in order to solve this problem?

When and where can you take action, to solve this problem?

 

Engagement and Buy In

The W- series training sessions are task-oriented, which is to say, it immediately engages participants in problem-solving exercises which educate and empower participants to learn how to take appropriate actions when faced with difficult or controversial decisions.

No matter who is participating in these training sessions on whatever topic is at issue, the goal is for participants to be engaged and to have some stake in the outcome for the training session.

It’s Not Check off The Box, Off-the-Shelf That We’re Offering

Oh this law was passed, so we’ll hire some consultants, do their training- and check off the box. That will do it. Walah! Instant compliance.

This is often the solution organizations are seeking. And it makes sense, because it’s easy. It’s very easy to hire a firm to roll-out their off the shelf- training, much of it online, (which is even easier). All that needs to be done is purchase the product, have participants sign up for it, force them through it and then be done with it. The mission has been accomplished. The box has been checked. And all this cost is a relatively little bit of time and a relatively little bit of money, considering how much time and money is spent on more high-quality, specifically customized in-person training. Is this kind of training effective? Does that work? In some cases, for certain types of institutional compliance – yes.  These kinds of training systems work with straightforward compliance concepts such as the best practices for utilizing IT systems, or the best work space safety practices.

But when the compliance concept impacts, not only the institution’s organizational culture (as well as the larger social culture around certain behaviors and deeply held beliefs, that tie into religion, morality, gender, race, class, money, power, justice, criminal justice,  developing a compliance system that is effective  is not an easy task, nor is it one that can be accomplished quickly. Any firm that claims that one particular type of training session will solve all problems the multitude of problems that Title IX compliance presents is being disingenuous.  In order for any real transformation to occur, people must be engaged in the transformation process and believe in its efficacy.

This is what is so unique about the W series.  It is not simply a training system that is pushed onto to them, that they have to suffer through as a result of some mandate that they may or may not agree with. The W series engages participants from the very start and provides them with a stake in the outcome of the training. It’s not training that happens to them – it is training that they collectively create.  Through lines of inquiry, each training group can collectively and organically establish an action plan for bringing about the kind of transformational organizational change that will be required to consistently and effectively deal with the challenges posed in preventing campus sexual assault and intimate violence, using the resources that the group has identified as being at their disposal.

It is very important that any training in this area realistically identify the resources that are at the college and university’s disposal to go forward with working out solutions via this problem-solving methodology. Training in these sorts of areas should never be viewed as a “well we did that, let’s check off this box on someone’s action plan somewhere and move on” endeavor.  All too often, organizational training is viewed in that way. But that approach heavily undervalues the greatest benefits and gains to be derived from training.

Rather than a check-off- the-task- approach, training should be viewed as providing participants with tools and a framework that can be used over and over again to allow for significant organizational cultural shifts and changes that occur gradually. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Title IX compliance in the area of sexual assault and intimate violence is definitely like eating an elephant. Changes need to occur, and they will one way or another. But they will not happen overnight. What is most important for most colleges and universities is having a framework in place by which change can occur most organically, productively and progressively.

Our training modules are so simple, anyone with the appropriate facilitation skills can implement them. While we do not recommend this initially, it is certainly a possibility once the framework has been properly established, within your organization.

 When Things Go Wrong – The Risk of Non-Compliance

 On July 6, 2016, the University of Tennessee announced a $2.48 million dollar settlement of a lawsuit against it, with regard to the manner in which it had handles sexual misconduct on its campus. As a part of the settlement, the school agreed to increase training for all employees on addressing sexual violence, make changes to the manner in which its student disciplinary board is organized and nationally recognized hire consultants to improve their school policies.

In exchange for this, the plaintiffs – all of the women remained anonymous – agreed to drop any additional legal claims against the school and refrain from making any statements that will reflective negatively on the school. However, a settlement of this nature that is being dissected critically via national news media outlets already reflects negatively on the school.

When things are going wrong, in this arena, (and in this arena, they can go wrong to the tune of two and a half million dollars), it is important to call in the experts to manage the situation as expeditiously as possible.

These experts should be able to utilize crisis management techniques that have been time tested and proven to work. The Alchemy Enterprises F.L.I.P.P. investigative model is one such technique, and for that reason, every Title IX Coordinator should review this model and evaluate how well its organization’s investigations into sexual assault and intimate violence follow this model.

Our specialization into this particular area is what distinguishes us from the rest. Make no mistake, the sexual assault and intimate violence arenas are rife with conflict, confusion and controversy – in order to effectively solve problems in this area, an organization will need to hire outside, specialized help with a proven track record of handling investigations in this area specifically.  And then in moving forward, past the crisis, there is still a need for the specialized serviced to assure that the organization can transform and grow beyond the crisis.

Transformation and Growth – Ensuring that Things Go Right

Beyond the investigation, or the mishandled allegations, or whatever the issue is that needed to be properly managed, but was not, beyond the problems, obstacles, conflict and confusion there is a way.

Every college and university can begin its Title IX compliance efforts by systematically investing in resources and tools designed to ensure that things go right. This is how Alchemy Enterprises can assist schools in discovering the correct formula for moving forward in this area of sexual misconduct and intimate violence. We provide a comprehensive framework, from policy review to flexible, problem-solving based training systems; to refined investigation systems. These are all invaluable tools for any institution to utilize. That is what the Alchemy Enterprises brand offers, training products that work, investigative procedures that work and most importantly solutions to problems that work!

A Complimentary Consultation

To kick off its fall 2016 launch, Alchemy Enterprises is offering complimentary consultations to University Presidents, Chancellors and Title IX and Student Affairs coordinators. Please contact us at:

alchemyenterpriseconsulting@gmail.com

or

571-247-1457

 

Alchemy Enterprises

Transforming Education through Innovation

Compliance Made Easy

Need an App for That?

These days,  young people, (and even a few of use older ones) use Apps for everything! And why is that? Apps can be kwirky, cool,  or crazy! But the reason I use them is that they are incredibly convenient. The Association of Title IX administrators (ATIXA) have developed an app that can be used as a Title IX compliance tool. I can’t say that I have personal experience with this app, (how well it works, or engages students) but given all of the extensive training requirements of Title IX compliance, I’d say, it seems this might be a great solution to a problem that is always going to a moving target. Click on the links below to get more information.

ATIXA AND TRIVIE PARTNER ON APP-BASED SOLUTION: U OF NINE

U of Nine is an app-based solution to help colleges and universities educate students and employees about sexual violence, sexual harassment, intimate partner violence and stalking. A cost-effective way to offer awareness and education content for audiences that can be hard-to-reach.

U of Nine modules are quiz-based, and have been created by ATIXA, the Association of Title IX Administrators, in collaboration with leading education quiz-based training app company, Trivie.

Experience U of Nine for yourself! Free 14-day trials available online atwww.uofnine.com

To learn more, click here.
To read the official press release, click here.