Recommendations from Inquiry on Sexual Assaults
Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016
(NOTE: USU President Stan Albrecht requested an inquiry into recent allegations of sexual assaults in the campus community. The recommendations from the inquiry follow below, along with an overview statement of the findings.)
Utah State University will implement a number of procedures following recommendations from its inquiry into recent allegations of sexual assaults. These recommendations build on USU’s ongoing review of its sexual assault response and prevention efforts, which address the pressing concern of sexual assault in the campus community.
As these recommendations show, the inquiry has identified areas for improvement in our institution’s comprehensive approach to responding to and preventing sexual assault. It is our firm belief that we must always continue to do better, and these recommendations provide additional guidance for going forward.
Many of the recommendations include changes USU has begun to implement already, but they also detail numerous, important additional steps we can take. For example, it is clear from the inquiry that we must address student attitudes regarding sexual misconduct and stigmas related to reporting sexual assault by a fellow student. We need to improve the chain of communication with local law enforcement and other community partners. We also must develop a standardized process for responding to anonymous reports of sexual misconduct and refine our procedures for reviewing a victim’s request for anonymity or a request that no investigation or disciplinary process take place.
The inquiry also found that:
- No one at Utah State discouraged any victim from reporting an incident of sexual assault, and no one at Utah State discouraged any victim from pursuing an investigation into any incident of sexual assault.
- No one at any level covered up evidence of university wrongdoing in these cases.
- No athlete received preferential treatment from anyone in athletics or from any office at the university.
That being said, USU can and will do more to respond to and prevent sexual assault. As the president said in an earlier statement, we are deeply disturbed by any incident of sexual assault, and we recognize the impact sexual assault has on the lives of victims. Sexual assault not only tragically impacts survivors; it also diminishes the strength of our campus community and our student-centered land-grant mission.
The university is committed to swiftly implementing needed changes. We also ask for the commitment and support of our entire campus community to help us in this important effort.
TO IMPROVE THE REPSONSE TO AND PREVENTION OF
SEXUAL ASSAULT AT UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY
1. Centralize and coordinate oversight and responsibility for sexual assault prevention and response
Create a permanent coordinating committee to ensure effective implementation of investigation and adjudication processes, training for faculty and staff, education of students, prevention efforts, and other related Title IX compliance efforts.
2. Ensure that all faculty and staff comply with reporting obligations
Evaluate current sexual harassment training materials for effectiveness, including clear instructions for how and where to report incidents of sexual misconduct.
3. Develop education opportunities and improve notice of policies so students and the entire campus community understand reporting options at USU
Expand current training and education opportunities for USU students regarding the nature and meaning of consent, bystander intervention, USU’s policies and procedures, and confidential, non-confidential and anonymous reporting options at USU.
4. Improve recordkeeping and linking between records maintained by distinct offices
Continue roll out of Maxient software, purchased Spring 2016, which will link records between housing, student conduct and Title IX (with confidentiality protections in place). It also will provide an online reporting option for members of the campus community to report instances of sexual misconduct.
5. Continue with already-implemented policy changes to improve investigation and disciplinary processes
Continue with revisions of policies and procedures so current practices are fully transparent and easy to locate. While balancing due process rights of the accused, develop a clear process for how to proceed when a victim is unwilling or unable to participate or when information about an incident is limited. Develop a standardized process for responding to anonymous reports of sexual misconduct, including where such reports are recorded, who responds to such reports, and how such reports are resolved.
6. Address attitudes and campus culture regarding sexual misconduct
Expand efforts to address student attitudes regarding sexual misconduct and stigmas related to reporting sexual assault by a fellow student.
7. Improve relationships with local law enforcement and other community partners
Continue to develop the appropriate chain of communication and other cooperative relationships with local law enforcement and other community partners.
8. Continually evaluate effectiveness of USU’s response to sexual assault in our campus community, including education, adjudication, and resources.
Conduct campus climate surveys and create forums that encourage candid discussion about USU’s efforts to address the issues of sexual assault.