Herbst backs task force
UConn President Susan Herbst has announced a new plan to address the prevalent issue of sexual assault on campus.
In an email to the university community sent out on the morning of Friday, Feb. 7th, Herbst said she has authorized the implementation of several new policies following a report by the UConn Task Force on Civility and Campus Culture.
Last summer, the task force was created and, since then, they have been getting feedback from students and others at UConn through many means, including a website for anonymous input and several public meetings. The task force, which included both students and staff, was tasked with providing detailed recommendations for ways to improve the campus culture.
The Task Force presented the report to Herbst last year on December 15th. The recommendations include the formation of a central office to serve as a location with staff members to work with student victims of sexual assault, implementation of a bystander program for students (planning is already underway), expansion of educational programming on topics like alcohol, drug use and sexual violence prevention and a student-led effort to change the name of the path often referred to as "Celeron Trail."
In her email, Herbst said "Implementing these recommendations will begin immediately, and, as you will see, specific individuals and offices have been assigned to oversee their implementation within an appropriate time frame."
Herbst also said that "These are only a few of the accepted recommendations; there are many others ... My thanks to all the dedicated faculty, staff and students who made this process positive and productive; they have performed a valuable and lasting service to the university."
In closing, Herbst said, in part, "Our goal is to remain at the forefront of the battle against sexual assault and harassment by doing all we can to mirror best practices nationally, and to be a leader in the field."
The Task Force Report, titled "Toward a Culture of Inclusion: Striving for Acceptance," detailed specific goals to be implemented in the coming months. The ideas include both educational programming as well as sexual violence prevention and safety initiatives.
"We learned that paradoxically UConn has many resources for students in many locations, physical and virtual, students are not aware of them," the Task Force report stated, "nor able to access them readily, necessitating a student-focused re-"vision" (in the root sense of the word) and re-organization."
Just over two weeks ago, on January 22nd, President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum to combat the growing problem of sexual assault on college campuses. The memo, which established the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, directed the Office of the Vice President and the White House Council on Women and Girls to lead the efforts on the Task Force.
Some of the members of the Task Force include Obama Administration officials Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Valerie Jarrett, who serves as senior advisor and assistant to the President for intergovernmental affairs and public engagement.
All the UConn Task Force reports and documents can be found by going to www.President.UConn.edu/communications then clicking February 2014.
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