Eliot Circular

New Dean Oversees Sexual Assault Prevention

Assistant Dean of Students Jyl Shaffer oversees sexual assualt prevention and response at Reed.

In response to growing concerns on campus and nationwide about the issue of sexual assault on college campuses, Reed last year created the position of assistant dean of students for sexual assault prevention and response. From a pool of top candidates, the search committee sought a professional with superb credentials, long experience, and commitment to excellence—and found her.

“I wouldn’t have picked up and moved across the country if I didn’t believe Reed could become a national model in this area,” says Jyl Shaffer, who took the job in September. Shaffer comes to Reed from Vanderbilt University, where she was a victim advocate and winner of the 2011 Margery Fry Victim Service Practitioner Award for outstanding service in victim assistance.

“I like working in a college environment,” says Shaffer. “You have a population that is interested in this topic. They want to learn and they want to get it right. Since the day I got here, people have been asking me ‘How can I help? How can we work together to get this right?’ I can’t express how different that is—how different that makes Reed.”

Shaffer will work closely with the sexual misconduct board (SMB) that was recently created to adjudicate sexual misconduct complaints against students. (Survivors are also assisted in contacting the police.) She will help train the 17 staff and student board members. Hearing panels must include at least two staff members and at least two student members. SMB proceedings are governed by the same procedures applicable to the judicial board.

In addition, Shaffer oversees Reed’s programs to prevent sexual misconduct; prepares educational resources for students, staff, and faculty; reviews response protocols; tracks data; and works with campus groups.

“In my role as advocate, I need to make sure that the process is meeting the needs of the community and that the resources are available to those who need them,” says Shaffer. “This is not about just making sure we meet the legal requirements, but rather making sure we are doing it right and meeting the needs of the community.”

Shaffer has a BA in history and education from Clarion University of Pennsylvania and an MA in conflict management from Lipscomb University. Her thesis focused on the use of restorative justice in the adjudication of sexual assault cases on college campuses.

In case you harbored any doubts that she’s a good fit for Reed, consider the course she taught over Paideia, The Right Way to Help a Friend Get Lucky, focusing on the proper role of a wingman, wingwoman, or wingperson, what it means be a friend, and how to promote togetherness in a manner that is safe and consenting. The course description ended with the following note: “There is the strong possibility of references to Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and, if you’re nice, Dr. Who.

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