DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – After a string of highly publicized sexual assault reports by SMU students, a task force was established in hopes of creating a safer campus.
After 12 meetings over six months, the 20-person task force comprised of SMU students, alums, faculty, staff, members of law enforcement, and others has put forth 41 recommendations, all of which have been accepted by university president R. Gerald Turner.
The group reviewed research and recommendations from several other universities that had also established task forces on sexual assault and misconduct. Among the findings, a startling statistic: 20 percent of female students and 6 percent of male students are victims of an attempted or completed sexual assault during their college career.
Some of the 41 recommendations include policies and procedures already in place at SMU, which the task force believed should be strengthened. For example, while the task force agreed that SMU should continue to use hearing boards to review student conduct cases, including sexual misconduct cases, the group recommended that students not make up the majority of the board or serve as chair.
New initiatives include educational programs for students, as well as mentoring and bystander intervention programs, in which students would be empowered to step in to help classmates involved in high-risk situations. To encourage students to report sexual misconduct without fear of getting in trouble, students would also be granted immunity regarding alcohol or drug use when making a report. Also, victims of sexual misconduct will be allowed to choose the options that best meet their needs, while being encouraged to inform law enforcement and get medical attention in a timely manner.
READ THE ENTIRE TASK FORCE REPORT:
“The Task Force valued all of the input provided, and especially appreciated hearing from students and members of our North Texas community,” said task force chair Kelly Compton, SMU trustee and chair of the board’s committee on student affairs, in a written statement. “Sexual misconduct is a community issue that requires community partnerships, including with local service and health care providers and law enforcement officials. We recommend that SMU continue building these relationships.”
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