Dealing with sexual assault and domestic violence on college campuses has become a topic that has gained national recognition as better education has led to higher levels of reporting. While college students can be a challenging population for local law enforcement, partnerships can create collaborations that benefit students, campus safety, and local law enforcement.
Fairfield University is one school that has taken the lead on this, and is the only college in Connecticut that provides training to their local police department on Title IX, the Clery Act and new laws related to intimate partner, domestic, and sexual violence on campus.
The School of Nursing’s Terry Quell, PhD, MSN, RN who is Fairfield’s Title IX Compliance Coordinator, worked closely with Frank Ficko, associate director of public safety, and Detective Kerry Dalling from the Fairfield Police Department to develop the initiative.
“It was a wonderful collaboration,” said Dr. Quell. “It gives us an opportunity to work together with the local police department to provide stronger services for our students.”
Dr. Quell has been the Title IX Compliance Coordinator at Fairfield for the past four years. Title IX is a federal regulation that protects people from discrimination based on gender in education programs that receive federal financial assistance. When it was first enacted in the 1970s, it was mainly focused on women’s representation in athletics, but today is more commonly associated with addressing sexual harassment and sexual assault on campuses.
The Clery Act of 1990 requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to keep and disclose information about crime on and near their respective campuses.
Over the years, Dr. Quell and a coordinating team on campus have worked closely with Detective Dalling, who is called if there’s an assault on a college campus in the Town of Fairfield. That partnership was taken a step further when Detective Dalling contacted Todd Pellazza, director of Public Safety, with the suggestion that they create a presentation to teach the Fairfield Police Officers about Title IX and the Clery Act during the time they undergo mandatory recertification training.
Dr. Quell thought it was a great proposal. “After talking to Kerry and Todd, I said ‘Sure, we can do that.’ I presented the Title IX piece and Frank Ficko did the Clery piece and we ended up training 110 Fairfield police officers.”
After attending a national conference for Title IX administrators, Dr. Quell discovered that this type of collaboration between colleges and police departments might be a unique one. “I found out that other coordinators didn’t work closely with their campuses’ public safety office or at all with the local police department.” She is currently waiting to see if a proposal she submitted about the collaboration will be accepted at the next national conference. If selected, other colleges around the nation could learn about and adopt their successful practices.
Dr. Quell said, “As administrators we need to be in compliance, and work to ensure that we can stop the behavior and prevent a repeat incident. The most important thing (for all campuses) is to make sure that the victim gets all the services they want and need – even if they don’t want to file an official complaint. This type of collaboration is a great way to ensure that that happens."
Future collaborations between the University and the Fairfield Police department include Detective Dalling presenting a session to students during freshmen orientation in September. Dr. Quell and Ficko have been asked to return in February for follow-up training at the Fairfield Police Department. "We look forward to continuing our collaboration in working together for the benefit of our students,” Dr. Quell said.