SMU task force outlines changes in dealing with sexual misconduct

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Credit: WFAA

SMU task force outlines changes in dealing with sexual misconduct

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WFAA

Posted on May 8, 2013 at 12:05 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 8:46 AM

UNIVERSITY PARK — Southern Methodist University has released findings from a task force investigating policies regarding the reporting of sexual misconduct.

SMU President R. Gerald Turner, who established the task force last September, said he has accepted the recommendations outlined by the blue ribbon panel, which include:

  • continuing, clarifying or enhancing several existing procedures and policies
  • adopting new measures that can further contribute to prevention
  • prompt reporting of sexual misconduct
  • resources for assistance of victims
  • fair treatment of all concerned

SMU was criticized last year for handling sexual assault allegations with a disciplinary board and letting a suspect remain on campus.

In 2012, five sexual assaults were reported on SMU's campus; two men were arrested, one was indicted.

One incident has been reported so far this year.

In all, the task force made 41 recommendations to the university. Some of them are simple, common-sense items, like printing a pocket-size card with information to help employees support students who report sexual misconduct.

The panel also suggests that students be able to report violations anonymously, and that avenues to do that are clearly outlined to them.

"We do not want to create a 'chilling effect' for students who may be hesitant about stepping forward to report sexual misconduct if they perceive that they will not have the opportunity to 'control' what happens with their case," the report said.

In addition, the task force urged SMU to either fund its own counselors who can be available 24 hours a day or should publicize the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center hotline.

"I gratefully accept all of the recommendations made," President Turner said in a written statement. "SMU is committed to implementing changes and continuing to monitor the effectiveness of all our policies and procedures on sexual misconduct."

Click the link to view the full text of the task force report:

 

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