More important than winning

_sw56862There is a misconception about what I do for a living.

The common belief is that my professional passion as the athletic director at Roosevelt University lies somewhere between sports, generally, and the pursuit of winning, specifically. While there is no denying my love for athletics, and the validation that comes from winning, it is not what gets me excited about coming to work every day.

My passion is our students and the opportunity I have to make a profound impact during a transformational period in their lives.

Mike Cassidy
Mike Cassidy finishes his 27.8-Mile run from Roosevelt’s Schaumburg campus to its Chicago campus to support Lakers athletics.

For this reason, I am now focused on what is arguably the greatest challenge facing institutions of higher education today: ending sexual misconduct on college campuses. It is an issue that has taken over the public consciousness, with the federal government mandating accountability from institutions and media outlets shining a light on the reality of the task at hand. It is a spotlight magnified in my profession by incidents of sexual misconduct involving student-athletes.

I was fortunate that I did not have to look far to find where I could be an active participant on our campus on this issue. In reality, it found me. I was asked in August of 2013 by then-Chief of Staff Brig Timpson to become part of the University’s Sexual Respect Committee, and chair its Education subcommittee.

I quickly accepted and also quickly realized at the first committee meeting that a ready-made solution to this problem did not exist. But I was inspired by the room of like-minded, dedicated people. I was not in this alone.

My passion is our students and the opportunity I have to make a profound impact during a transformational period in their lives.

In the coming months, the committee crafted a foundation for educating our community and creating a culture of respect and compliance among all students, faculty, staff and guests of the University.

The work really began the last two weeks in August, when trained volunteers conducted Title IX, Sexual Misconduct and Bystander Intervention training sessions as part of the new student orientation process for freshmen, transfers, international students and student-athletes. Students left with a greater awareness of consent, the definitions of sexual misconduct, the role alcohol and other drugs play in this problem, bystander intervention techniques, and resources available on campus in case they need assistance for themselves or a friend.

We followed up in October with our first-year students through their First Year Seminar classes and provided a deeper education into the role culture, alcohol and other drugs play in this issue. Simultaneously, the group began the process of educating our faculty and staff on their responsibilities, both in understanding the issue and knowing how to direct survivors to the appropriate resources. We’re developing online training modules now for our graduate and adult learner populations.

Of course, despite the work that has been done already, these are just the first few steps. I am still searching for ways I can help solve this enormous problem.

Do you want to join me? There is much work to be done. It’s On Us.

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