NEIU’s Grant from Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women

Rebecca Denham, News Editor

Last Oct., NEIU was awarded a $300,000 grant lasting three years to “help with proactive prevention and education on sexual assault and stalking,” according to NEIU’s Director of Equal Opportunity, Title IX and Ethics Natalie Potts.

All NEIU students, staff and faculty are protected from sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, stalking, dating violence and domestic violence under the Title IX federal law, which prohibits discrimination based on sex in any educational program. The Title IX office on campus works with the university police department to make assistance easily accessible to anyone experiencing any form of harassment.

There is the option to file a complaint anonymously online through a link on the Title IX tab of NEIU’s website. Alternatively, students can reach out to the university’s campus confidential advisor, Rae Joyce Baguilat, at [email protected]. The confident advisor runs separately from the police department, so students are able to speak privately about their options without having to take immediate action or file a police report.

While the NEIU Police Department is independent from the Chicago Police Department, students are still able to file a no contact order on campus, which prevents unwanted verbal communication, physical altercations, text messages or social media messages from any other NEIU student, staff or faculty.

Potts stated that NEIU “definitely takes cyber stalking seriously.”

Students also have the option of requesting an NEIU police officer to walk across campus with them, drive them to bus stops or wait with them for their transportation to arrive. In some cases, Title IX can work with the Dean’s Office to rearrange class schedules or even housing at The Nest if necessary. This type of assistance should not impact the student’s tuition or financial aid.

“There should be no disincentives for students to come forward,” said Potts. “We try to remove those barriers entirely.”

Should the recipient break the order’s explicit rules, a formal investigation by the Dean of Students can be executed that may result in the student’s suspension, expulsion or degree revocation. While this no contact order is only applicable while on campus, any message or action taken off campus will be accounted for as well.

If a student feels that they need assistance outside of what the university offers, the NEIU Police Department is able to help in filing a restraining order with the Chicago courts system. The NEIU Police Department works in unison with the Chicago Police Department to ensure the safety of students on and off campus.

The grant that the university received will also be used to protect NEIU’s students. A coordinator will be hired to train staff and develop bilingual material for students to have access to on campus. It will also connect the campus with non-profit agencies and the state’s attorney to give students access to secondary assistance, should they need it.

According to Potts, the university is looking to “enhance cultural competency on and off campus, as well as to aid the LGBTQ community. Especially the trans community, which is under siege right now. We want everyone to feel safe here.”

In the past year, there have been three cases filed involving stalking on NEIU’s campus. “Three people per year is still three too many,” said Potts. “To get the full picture, we need people to come forward. I am more than happy to help them any time of day or night.”

Natalie Potts can be reached at [email protected].