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Freshman IUSG Internship Program project examines sexual misconduct policy



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Junior Isabel Mishkin, IU Student Government Chief of Staff, stands next to the podium Jan. 22 during an open forum for students to learn about proposed changes to Title IX regulations in the Indiana Memorial Union. IUSG offers a competitive program for first-year IU students to intern with members of the organization.  Junhui Wu

IU Student Government offers a competitive program allowing freshmen to intern for members of the organization. 

There are between 15 and 20 intern positions each year, and the job typically spans the fall semester, though some interns stay on for the full year. Each intern works on a project aiming to improve IU. 

Freshman Maddie Dederichs is an intern for junior Isabel Mishkin, IUSG chief of staff. They are working on a project regarding sexual misconduct at IU. 

“The first thing Isabel did was give me the huge packet of the Title IX policies and said, ‘I want you to know this like the back of your hand,’” Dederichs said.

After that, the pair began diving into the policy and formulating recommendations.

“I really knew that I needed an intern who cared about sexual misconduct on campus and could jump right in to focus on that with me,” Mishkin said. 

Mishkin and Dederichs’ project focuses on evaluating the sexual misconduct policies, procedures and prevention resources at IU. They are examining the wording and content of the policies, conducting informational interviews and collaborating with students. 

The two worked with Becca Townsend, IUSG chief of health and wellbeing, and former Culture of Care President Tom Sweeney, sitting down with students to discuss student experiences and potential concerns about IU’s sexual misconduct policies. 

This group, called the Sexual Misconduct Student Working Group, spent the fall semester meeting with students and staff to discuss their concerns and questions. 

The group then took this information to IU administrators and staff. 

The students will be coming out with a list of 10 recommendations regarding the policies, processes and prevention resources likely before the end of the month, Mishkin said. 

“I think this project is important because even if it were to help just one individual, the student body will be able to see that their student government has their back and is looking out for their future,” Dederichs said.  

At the same time that IUSG is examining IU sexual misconduct policies, changes are being proposed for sexual misconduct policy at the national level.

“This is something that most universities and student governments are focused on right now, because Title IX is something that comes down from federal levels,” Mishkin said. 

The U.S. Department of Education proposed changes to the regulations implementing Title IX last fall. Title IX is a federal law created to protect individuals from discrimination based on sex in educational programs. 

The time for public comment on the proposed changes closes Jan. 30. Comments can be submitted electronically to the Federal Register and can be submitted through regulations.gov or mailed to the Department of Education. 

IUSG partnered with IU Student Affairs to hold an open forum on the issue Tuesday. Attendees heard an explanation of the key changes, asked questions and received tips for submitting comments on the proposal. 

“There’s an opportunity to engage civically here so being informed is part of that and then taking the next step to formulate a well-thought, well-considered comment means that you have a voice,” said Libby Spotts, associate dean and director of student conduct. 

The forum, led in part by Spotts, focused on how changes would affect students and how IU can best serve its students. 

IUSG bears the same goal in mind.

“IUSG is a voice for students," Dederichs said. "I've learned so much as a freshman intern about how important it is to have your voice in policy and to be inclusive to all students.”

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