UI points to Anti-Violence Plan after online sexual misconduct


Tom Jorgensen

The University of Iowa Campus looking west from Old Capitol and the Pentacrest.

After a viral tweet revealing sexual misconduct that impacted dozens of women in the University of Iowa community, UI officials are confident in their strategies to combat sexual misconduct.

The subject of the tweet, Nick Caracci, a former UI student accused of numerous instances of sexual misconduct, is no longer a student at the UI.

UI Public Safety public-information officer Hayley Bruce confirmed in an email to The Daily Iowan on June 20 that Caracci is no longer enrolled at the university based on directory information.

Bruce said to date, UI police have received four reports from three people about Caracci.

The most recent report was filed on June 12 relating to suspicious activity via social media.

After a UI student’s tweet accusing Caracci of sexual harassment went viral on June 10, dozens of other women responded with pictures showing they had received similar messages from Caracci.

The DI revisited statistics relating to sexual harassment on campus.

UI sexual harassment statistics

The UI conducted its second Speak Out Survey during the fall of 2017. The survey touched upon many different areas relating to sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment and online sexual harassment.

The second survey received an improved response rate compared with the first, conducted in 2015. The overall response rate on the second survey was 22.8 percent, up from 9.3 percent in the fall of 2015.

Of those surveyed, 60 percent of female students said they had been sexually harassed, and 12 percent said they had been stalked.

Half of the women who said they had been stalked reported that they had received unwanted messages online from their stalker.

RELATED: UI gets improved response on second campus-wide sexual assault survey

A total of 24 percent of female students said a fellow student sexually harassed them via electronic communication such as text messages or direct messaging over social media.

In 2016, 124 cases of sexual harassment and 94 cases of stalking were reported to the Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator.

UI’s Anti-Violence Plan

The UI recently introduced a 2018-2021 Anti-Violence Plan. The plan is focused on prevention, education, intervention, and policy.

One of the strategies listed under the Prevention and Education section is “to expand and coordinate programming focused on mobilizing and engaging male-identified students, staff, faculty, and community partners to work as allies with all genders to create cultures of respect, free from gender-based violence.”

The strategy features such items as charging the Healthy Masculinities Task Force to “define a mission statement that targets observable outcomes geared at decreasing and ultimately ending gender-based violence,” “promoting authentic masculinity discussion groups in residence halls,” and “developing more facilitators for the Better Men, Better Hawkeyes curriculum.”

Anne Bassett, the media-relations director of UI Strategic Communication, said the anti-violence strategies don’t reflect all the work the university is doing to combat sexual misconduct, but rather, they include additional work to address sexual misconduct, dating violence, and stalking at the time they were introduced.

Student government’s plan to combat sexual misconduct

UI Student Government President Hira Mustafa said the organization is focused on the implementation of the Anti-Violence Plan, but the group members will also pursue their own initiatives and plans.

“UISG is looking at the response from the university for different cases and how we can be more transparent about the process and trying to get people to understand the number of resources there are and looking at what those specific resources offer,” she said.

Mustafa said UISG is working to get bystander-intervention training in more places as well as feedback on those trainings.

She noted that the discussion on sexual misconduct needs to be more inclusive in terms of street harassment.

“People sometimes see it as more of a nuisance or something that is just a one-time case,” she said. “People fight the issue long enough so the person harassing them leaves them alone. As we’ve seen, especially with the viral case, individual cases contribute to such a big picture.”

UISG Director of Governmental Relations Emmalyn Brown said in an email to the DI she plans on advocating for students by lobbying for legislation that will protect survivors’ rights on the state level as well as comprehensive sex education.

“We have also talked about campaigns on street harassment and online harassment and hosting seminars open for students and public,” she said.

Brown thinks sexual harassment isn’t taken seriously enough in general.

“I think that everyone, whether it’s in our community on the university level or on the city level, should treat every person with the respect they deserve and that survivors of any act of sexual violence should not feel the need to justify their pain and fear,” she said.

Brown said she believes the UI addresses sexual violence better than some other campuses she has been on, but there is still work to do.

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