UI board updates on sexual assault policies


Daily Illini File Photo

Elizabeth Mucha, a senior in LAS and a member of Amnesty International Chapter 124, rallies supporters of the 2013 Slut Walk to call awareness to sexual assault.

By Megan Jones, Staff Writer

Sexual assault remains an important safety concern on college campuses, urging many support groups and organizations throughout the University of Illinois system to develop more advanced resources for victims of sexual assault.

At Wednesday’s Board of Trustees subcommittee meeting, UI officials were presented with updates about sexual assault policies and ways the school is trying to combat sexual assault.

Three sexual assaults have been reported this school year on the Urbana campus. University of Illinois Police Department spokesperson Pat Wade said there were 12 reports of rape on campus in 2014, but that UIPD knows rape and other forms of sexual assault are a widely underreported crime.

The “Illinois Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education” act mandates establishing a single comprehensive policy across campus for reporting and responding to sexual assault, calls for confidential advisors, an anonymous online reporting system and mandatory victim-centered training.

The act was implemented Aug. 1, and campuses had one year to prepare for the implementation of the new guidelines.

The Urbana campus launched a “We Care” website in July 2015 that has tools for reporting and can link people to information and resources.

“We think we’ll see a slight increase in reporting because we are increasing the amount of ways that students can report,” Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson said.

The UI system is in its second academic year of using an online system to teach students and faculty about preventing sexual assault, Executive Director of Ethics and Compliance Donna McNeely said. Around 25,000 students have completed the training this fall.

“The training component is designed to help students recognize social and environmental factors or cues that allow students to play a more active role in protecting themselves and others around them,” she said.

The program also asks students various survey questions, and each campus will be able to take the data and use it to determine whether additional face-to-face programs would be beneficial or if they need to modify programs already in existence. It also asks students if they’d like to be notified of volunteer opportunities for various sexual assault prevention organizations.

Anyone who submits an anonymous tip must receive a response within 12 hours under the new act.

McNeely said employees are completing their second year of training in the spring and will be reminded that every single employee is responsible for notifying the Title 9 office if a student or employee who has been sexually assaulted reports an incident to them and to ensure they get the support they need.

In the past, an employee has served as the Title 9 coordinator, among many other responsibilities, but Wilson said the University is going to hire its own Title 9 officer who will solely focus on compliance. A job description is currently being written and a national search will be conducted.

Wilson stated that along with FYCARE, a peer-led program that each freshman and transfer student must take, students can also take ICARE, a new bystander intervention program. In its first year, 1,000 students were trained.

A new intensive training program called Guard was also recently established. It is a weekend-long seminar which specifically targets fraternity and sororities.

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