Senate discusses sexual assault case protocol

By Maggie Sullivan

Matt Hill, vice president-external of the Illinois Student Senate, urged the Academic Senate to pass a resolution about Title IX conduct hearings Monday. The senate passed the resolution, supporting faculty, staff and student participation in Title IX conduct hearings, which concern sexual assault on college campuses.

Recently the Department of Education released documents detailing how universities should handle sexual assault cases, which it classifies as Title IX violations.

The Department of Education does not recommend student, faculty or staff participation in the conduct hearings. Instead, it recommends appointing one or two deans to act as the investigators and sole adjudicators of these cases, Hill said.

According to the Department of Education, survivors might not feel comfortable coming forward and facing a hearing board.

Although the recommendation of the Department of Education is not law and does not carry any legal obligation, universities often feel pressured to comply because of the authority of a government entity.

Hill and Student Body President Mitch Dickey, are advocating against the recommendation. Dickey also represented the University at a conference about the resolution in Washington D.C. in March.

“We believe it’s really important that faculty, staff and students do remain adjudicators in Title IX conduct hearings,” Hill said.

Dickey, alongside 74 other student body presidents nationwide, signed a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan opposing this recommendation.

“We’ve been really involved in leading the sexual assault awareness movement,” Hill said. “We really believe in shared governments, and just because something falls under Title IX doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be representation.”

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