In response to the recent allegations surrounding Penn State, Robert Morris University has established a Risk, Culture, Policy and Review Taskforce, according to Maureen Keefer, the Assistant Dean of Students.
The taskforce was created shortly after news of Penn State had become public; the committee had its first meeting last December. The committee intends to review Robert Morris University as a whole as well individually review all of the different organizations. An evaluation of situations dealing with minors and power relationships will also take place; the committee is concerned with these power relationships because they can lead to inappropriate situations, according to Keefer.
The committee will also acknowledge the question of whether students and staff are aware of RMU’s policies and how to react in a serious, threatening situation. The taskforce is placing an emphasis on every area of the university and any possible risks are being identified.
Another concern the taskforce is approaching is RMU’s multiple camps for students involving athletics- students are also involved with a lot of community service work with younger people, both on and off campus. This creates a need for review.
Administrators, faculty, staff, and two students make up this committee. Junior Alan Buehler is a contributor to the committee and is also President of the Student Government Association. Kristine Silaraja, an international graduate student and the Women’s Basketball Director of Operations also participates with the taskforce.
Keefer stated the goal of the taskforce is “to ensure that we have examined and are aware of risk areas and that we are moving forward. We need to be comfortable that we have the appropriate policies, procedures, and resources in place. So that if we had to deal with the situation we would be comfortable in examining the risk areas and look at changes if we wanted to do anything to ensure safety.”
Also, there will be upcoming opportunities for students to become involved with this new taskforce. The committee is currently discussing how to receive feedback from students. One idea is to hold focus groups with students and asking questions for discussion. Another approach is to use some form of a survey to receive a response. The opportunity to participate will be available sometime this semester. The committee is still deciding what the best strategy is and what the right questions to ask to obtain information are.
Maureen Keefer stated, “I hope when the committee has opportunities for students to share their perspectives and feedback they take advantage of that opportunity.”
The process of creating this taskforce has also benefitted RMU by allowing them to connect with other colleges and universities. The committee took advantage of a Webinar, web-based seminar, and some other available resources for different professional organizations.
It is important to take note that the taskforce does not imply that RMU has done anything wrong. The taskforce is simply an opportunity to look at the University and its programs; the committee will work throughout this semester and summer to complete the task and obtain results of our programs.