UND welcomes CVIC adviser

Logan Kassa (left) and Donna Smith (right). Photo by Marie Monson/The Dakota Student.

After years of working together to provide resources to students coping with acts of sexual violence, UND has allocated funds to the Community Violence Intervention Center that will pay for a confidential adviser to spend 20 hours a week on campus.

In October, UND announced there would be a confidential adviser accessible to students on campus, and it has followed through to ensure the position was established within the school year.

Recent UND graduate Logan Kassa set up her office in O’Kelly two weeks ago, and although she hasn’t met with any students yet, the new hire remains optimistic.

“I have not (seen any of the students yet),” Kassa said. “But it’s been a week, so I think that as we get the word out that I’m here and students know this is available it’ll pick up.”

Although the CVIC and UND have had close ties for years, UND Title IX Coordinator Donna Smith says it will be good to have someone closer on campus who is more accessible to students.

“CVIC was always there as a resource for students anyway,” Smith said. “But by bringing the adviser onto campus we’re just trying to make it that much easier for students to access those services.”

What it means

An act of sexual violence, whether it be sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking, can leave a person feeling like they have no control over his or her life, according to Smith. CVIC and UND want to provide victims with a safe environment in which said men or women can take back control in every possible way.

“We want to make sure that we leave the choice in the hands of the person that’s experienced this, because they’ve lost control of so many parts of their lives,” Smith said.

When it comes to reporting the acts of violence, the university and CVIC leave that option up to the victim, and Kassa’s position as a licensed professional uniquely does not require her to file reports for cases brought to her.

Under Title IX, UND employees who have been designated a “responsible employee” for Title IX and know or reasonably should know about a Title IX violation are required to report it to the Title IX Coordinator or a Deputy Title IX Coordinator. However, this does not apply to licensed professionals. So although students, faculty, or staff do have several options to pursue if they see Kassa, they are not required to file a report or pursue legal action of any kind.

“Title IX makes an exception for confidentiality for anybody who’s got a professional license, that requires confidentiality so a counselor, social worker, health care provider,” Smith said.

About the position

Although grants in previous years have allowed UND to have short term CVIC advisers on campus, Kassa’s position is the first of its kind. According to the North Dakota University System, the service will cost the school around $20,000 per year, including benefits. Kassa was hired by CVIC and is considered one of its employees, but her position is funded by the school and is a part of the free services offered to students, faculty and staff at the school.

Kassa, a December graduate of UND, has always enjoyed helping people, and is excited to put her social work degree to good use.

“I was social work pretty much from the beginning,” Kassa said. “So working with people and helping people has always been something that I’m passionate about and domestic violence and sexual assault has peaked my interest in the last couple of years.”

When asked if this position was created as a direct result of any specific event or the rising tension in schools all over the nation regarding sexual violence, Smith said Kassa’s place at UND is unrelated but that it is a part of an attempt to stay proactive.

“We’ve been trying to be proactive in everything that we’re doing,” Smith said. “The title IX rules -— everything was changing rapidly. It’s not in response to any particular event that happened elsewhere, but as we’re sitting around and assessing what kind of resources we have on campus, that was something that we saw as a need, and was accessible for us.”

Kassa’s office is located in O’Kelly Hall room 4, and students, faculty and staff can all schedule appointments by either walking in or calling (701)777-6550.

Marie Monson is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].