It is no secret that college is demanding. It tests students mentally, physically and emotionally. Unfortunately, learning disabilities and the struggles of mental health can make the college experience even more difficult, and both can force some students to believe that college is not even an option for them. However, Marie Jeppesen works relentlessly in her role as the disabilities services provider to push students to overcome the challenges that these obstacles bring to the table.
Before Jeppesen accepted the position, she was the teaching assistant for writing studio under Tom Truesdell during her senior year at NW.
“We worked really well together, and it just so happened that they were looking to fill John Menning’s old position after he was moved to the director of the NEXT program,” Jeppesen said. “I started my first year in 2018 and haven’t looked back.”
In her current role, Jeppesen’s main priority is to provide academic accommodations to students with learning disabilities and mental health problems. On top of that, Jeppesen works with students on academic probation, coordinates the speech fellows for the first-year seminar classes and teaches the writing studio class for incoming freshmen.
Even though Jeppesen was planning on becoming a high school English teacher after she graduated from NW in 2018, she has not had second thoughts about taking this job.
“I can undoubtedly see why God has placed me here. I love school, I love learning, I love students and I love teaching,” Jeppesen said. “Making the experience of college manageable for students who might not do as well on their own feels like the perfect fit for me.”
Although Jeppesen’s duties throughout the day are rewarding for her, she still sees her fair share of challenges.
Once those steps have been taken, the recorded conversations are put into a report for both parties; the complainant can move forward to a hearing or resolve the issue personally. If a hearing is chosen, the NW Title IX team brings in a Title IX attorney to lead and student advisors make cases on students’ behalf.
Whichever way the complainant may move forward, legal action is not necessarily taken. The most NW can do is expel a student, and this has happened several times.
“Sexual misconduct has happened and does happen on this campus, and we want anyone affected by it to feel safe to come forward,” Elliott said. “We are committed to objectively pursuing the facts, supporting survivors and stopping perpetrators.”
Every NW employee is a part of the work to stop Title IX cases. Except for those serving in psychological services or ministry, NW employees are required to share information about sexual misconduct with the Title IX team. Reporters includes resident assistants, Campus Ministry Team leaders and other paid student leaders. People at NW who need to report these cases are mandatory reporters.
“Being a mandatory reporter means that if I know anything about a potential Title IX violation, I have to pass that communication up the ladder,” Hospers Hall resident director Michael Simmelink said. “It is not necessary that I have any level of proof outside the judgement. The claims are the bare minimum of credibility.”
Raiders can report anything they see or experience on My Northwestern using the anonymous Raider Reporting Center.
“Even if you just hear a rumor about something happening to someone, or a pattern of disturbing behavior, please report that,” Simmelink said. “Your role is to take care of your brothers and sisters and hold them to a higher standard.”
The national sexual assault hotline is 1-800-656-4673.