October 2015Volume 21Number 2PDF icon PDF version (for best printing)

Stage set for November Statewide Symposium on College Sexual Assaults

In partnership with Porchlight Counseling Services, a not-for-profit organization that provides free therapy to survivors of college sexual assaults, and Rape Victim Advocates, a not-for-profit organization that provides advocacy services to survivors of sexual assaults, a group of judicial and bar associations is planning a statewide symposium on the prevalence of sexual assaults on college campuses. The issue is particularly timely for Illinois as Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law the Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act on August 21, 2015.

The Symposium will open at Columbia College on November 5, 2015, with a reception, a screening of The Hunting Ground, and a panel discussion moderated by Marion Brooks, Anchor for NBC Channel 5 News. Sofie Karasek, a survivor of college sexual assault and co-founder of End Rape on Campus, and Kaethe Morris Hoffer, Executive Director of Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, are confirmed panelists. The day-long seminar on November 6, 2015, will take place at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and include presentations on:

* Federal Law: Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, Jeanne Clery Act, and Title IX

* Action Steps in Congress

* Meeting Current Requirements

* Understanding Perpetrator and Victim Behavior

* The Role of Athletics and Greek Life

* Investigating Allegations of Sexual Assaults: Campus Police v. Local Police

* College Sanctions v. Prosecution by County State’s Attorney

* The Rights of the Victim and of the Accused

* The Social Norms Approach to Violence Prevention

* The New Illinois Law: Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education

* Rebuilding Broken Lives

* College Sexual Assaults and Violence against Women

Attorneys, social workers, school counselors, and psychologists are invited to attend the Symposium, and may be eligible for continuing legal education credits and continuing education units as appropriate. Other interested individuals such as college administrators, and college and professional sports coaching staff are also invited to attend. The Planning Committee for the Symposium believes that bringing individuals of different backgrounds together to discuss and learn about this important topic will benefit all attendees and provide a better educational experience.

The Symposium will also take place, via webinar, at two downstate venues. Attorneys, social workers et al., will gather at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and University of Illinois at Springfield to learn from the Symposium’s stellar faculty. Confirmed speakers to date for November 6, 2015, include:

* Anita Alvarez, Cook County State’s Attorney

* Anne Bent, Founder of Porchlight Counseling Services

* Dr. Alan Berkowitz, Consultant, Founding Board Member of End Violence Against Women Int’l 

* Kelli Childress, Kane County Public Defender

* Tom Dart, Cook County Sheriff

* Ashley Knight, Dean of Students, DePaul University

* Maria Nanos, LCSW, PhD, Porchlight Therapist

* Mike Nicolai, Vice President for Human Resources, The Art Institute of Chicago and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

* Diane Rosenfeld, Lecturer Harvard Law, NCAA Violence Prevention Think Tank


* Linda McCabe Smith, Title IX Coordinator, Southern Illinois University

* Dr. Howard Spivak, Deputy Director and Chief of Staff, National Institute of Justice

* Dr. Gail Stern, Co-owner and Chief Academic Officer, Catharsis Productions LLC

* Bowen Tucker, ALI project on Sexual & Gender Based Misconduct on College Campuses


A diverse group of judicial and bar organizations is represented on the Planning Committee for the Symposium. The group continues to grow with the addition of the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence and the Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater Chicago. The Planning Committee believes having a broad spectrum of co-sponsoring judicial and bar organizations will highlight both the seriousness of the issue and the resolve of the Illinois legal community to help end the epidemic of college sexual assaults. As college sexual assaults impact students of every race and ethnicity so too should bar and judicial associations representing our very diverse legal community seek to raise awareness about the issue and participate in thoughtful dialogue on ways to make a positive difference.

While the Planning Committee’s Bar and Judicial Outreach Subcommittee has been successful in garnering support and partnership from many bar and judicial associations, its work is limited by available manpower and is not yet done. The Subcommittee will persist in its efforts to reach additional bar and judicial associations but also invites interested associations to contact Subcommittee Chair Amanda Garcia at aygarcia@gmail.com. The Symposium is a unifying force bringing together segments of the legal community to work on an issue of immediate importance and the Planning Committee would like to ensure that all associations have the opportunity to join this work.

According to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, college sexual assaults impact 20 percent of female students and 6.1 percent of male students. Sexual violence is an epidemic sweeping our college and university campuses that can lead to broken and truncated lives. The service agencies and judicial and bar associations which make up the Planning Committee hope to raise awareness about college sexual assaults and challenge attorneys, social workers, psychologists and other attendees to make a difference.

Co-Sponsoring Organizations

Porchlight Counseling Services; Rape Victim Advocates; Illinois State Bar Association and its Administrative Law Section Council, General Practice Section Council, Human Rights Section Council, Standing Committee on Government Lawyers, Standing Committee on Racial and Ethnic Minorities & the Law, and Standing Committee on Women & the Law; American Bar Association Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence; Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater Chicago; Chicago Bar Association’s Alliance for Women; Cook County Bar Association; Decalogue Society of Lawyers; Haitian American Lawyers’ Association; Illinois Association of Administrative Law Judges; Jewish Judges Association of Illinois; National Association of Women Judges, District 8; National Bar Association, Judicial Council; National Bar Association, Region VII; Puerto Rican Bar Association; and the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois.

The Symposium is hosted by Columbia College, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and University of Illinois at Springfield.

Continuing Education Units will be provided by Dominican University, Graduate School of Social Work.

Continuing Legal Education Credits will be provided by Northwestern University School of Law.

The Symposium is supported by Silver Sponsors Chicago Says No More, and Foote, Mielke, Chavez and O’Neil, and Bronze Sponsor Mark and Linda Zaander, Schiff Hardin LLP. Additional support comes from John K. Norris, District IX Justice of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity International.

For additional information please visit porchlightcounseling.org.

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