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Colleges call for sexual assault guidance

By Claire Bryan, Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 13, 2014

A new study co-sponsored by the University found that 83 percent of surveyed institutions with written policies to address sexual misconduct said they want more support and guidance in handling students found responsible for sexual misconduct.

In a statement, Jay Wilgus, director of the Office of Student Conflict Resolution, said the survey’s results are consistent with conversations he has had with colleagues at other institutions. He also noted the findings are particularly relevant in light of President Barack Obama’s recent decision to form a task force to address sexual assault on college campuses.

“There is no doubt that representatives from institutions of higher education echo the president's concerns,” Wilgus said in a statement. “We are deeply concerned about the problem of sexual misconduct on campus and are strongly committed to preventing and effectively responding to campus sexual misconduct.”

He also added that many of those surveyed identified campus safety as a top concern and expressed a need for additional technical assistance, training and resources pertaining to the handling of instances of sexual misconduct.

The survey, jointly sponsored by the University, the Center for Effective Public Policy and the Association for Student Conduct Administration, covered more than 2,600 higher education representatives across the country, including public and private institutions with varying student populations.

The findings arrive as many institutions complete the process of adopting new sexual misconduct policies. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education released a Dear Colleague letter that strongly recommended that institutions more actively investigate all allegations of sexual misconduct.

The University’s newest policy, which was officially adopted in August, was used to handle former kicker Brendan Gibbons’ permanent separation from the University.

In an interview Thursday, Coleman responded to student criticism of the University’s transparency regarding the Gibbons incident by emphasizing the importance of educating students about the policy’s details.

“It could be that people don’t realize what the new processes are,” Coleman said in a Thursday interview. “Knowing as much as we can about the policies is really good.”

Holly Rider-Milkovich, director of the University’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, spoke spoke before the University's Board of Regents last month to raise further awareness of the University’s policy changes and laud the increased number of reported incidents.

In a statement, Kurt Bumby, senior associate at the Center for Effective Public Policy, said the results would help institutions better adapt to new policies and improve campus safety.

“These findings can help inform the national conversation and guide our ongoing efforts to assist stakeholders in responding appropriately to campus sexual assault and implementing effective strategies after a student has been found responsible,” he said.

A full report of the survey’s finding is slated for release in April.


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