UNA educates athletes on domestic violence

Domestic violence has been a hot topic in the NFL thanks to the recent incident involving former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice.

Although the UNA Athletics Department has no policy in place dealing directly with domestic violence, the university does.

“We have the Code of Student Conduct that says if you do any of these things, it’s a possible violation. And assault is one of those, including domestic violence,” said Kim Greenway, director of Student Conduct and Student Affairs Assessment.

She said the sanctions in place for inappropriate behavior include ineligibility to represent the university in athletics, organizations and intramural sports, or suspension from the university.

“There’s no discrepancy in how we deal with an athlete or another student when it comes to domestic violence,” she said. “We deal with domestic violence pretty seriously around here, too, and you can easily be suspended for it.”

As of March 2014, domestic violence falls under Title IX, a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972 to help fight gender discrimination and sexual violence, so every situation that is gender related goes to Tammy Jacques, Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs and Title IX Coordinator.

Greenway said Jacques’ conducts a full investigation, determines if that accused person is responsible and if found responsible, he or she is sanctioned appropriately.

“I’ve never had, that I can recall in my 20-something years here, a serious domestic physical situation that we didn’t suspend somebody,” she said.

Last year UNA hired a national firm of attorneys to evaluate all processes, Greenway said.

“As an institution we wanted to be on the forefront of the changes in Title IX and domestic violence and gender related issues falls under that,” she said.

UNA is trying to do a lot more proactive programming, and the office of student engagement will be instrumental in bystander intervention by teaching people about domestic violence and relationship issues, Greenway said.

“As a campus we’re moving that way in all forms of harassment, domestic violence, stalking, sexual misconduct, consent, ,” Greenway said.

Sports teams have been under scrutiny for not punishing athletes enough in the past for domestic violence, and freshman Rosa Lira said the athletes sometimes receive special treatment.

“(Domestic violence) is a crime, and they should be punished, which means no more sports,” she said.

The Athletics Department is trying to be more proactive as well, Athletic Director Mark Linder said as the department conducts an NCAA Life Skills program to help.

He said the Life Skills classes, usually held once a semester, are made to be impactful as they cover topics such as how to cook in a microwave, how to balance a checkbook or how to act responsibly with the opposite sex.

“Obviously, there’s a right way and a wrong way to conduct yourself,” Linder said. “We try to do our best to try to educate that violence of any sort is not going to be tolerated.”

Linder said he wants UNA to always to the right thing when it comes to handling these situations.

“Whenever an accusation comes against one of our student athletes our first and foremost obligation is to make sure the legal system is involved right away and also the Student Conduct office is notified right away,” he said.

Linder said he never wants UNA to have a perception out there that they think they are above the law.

“We don’t want to ever be in a situation where we’re viewed that we’re trying to protect a student athlete because he’s a student athlete,” he said. “Because they’re people first and anytime there’s a violation, there’s a victim. Violence in general is inappropriate.”