Upcoming policy revisions address sexual assault

Several policy changes will be announced later this week. Administrators confirmed that a reviewed and amended version of the university’s sexual assault policy will be released later this week, along with the announcement of four

Several policy changes will be announced later this week.

Administrators confirmed that a reviewed and amended version of the university’s sexual assault policy will be released later this week, along with the announcement of four other academic policy changes.

The current sexual assault policy was written in 1992 and was last reprinted and redistributed in 2003.

Harrison said there wasn’t a specific incident leading to the changes, but that the policy was undergoing a routine review.

“Sometimes you have to revise policies because of changes in the law,” said Valerie Harrison, associate University Counsel. “There doesn’t always need to be a trigger; every policy has to be periodically reviewed – titles change, names change, laws change.”

Harrison said the policy needed revisions because of organizational restructuring and updating of office names and personnel. Harrison also said the updated policy would include links for additional information.

“[When] the policy was drafted, it was a time when we didn’t use technology in the same way as we do now,” Harrison said. “Now we can add links and access information that is fresh and constantly updated.”

Many of the university’s policies and procedures, which can be accessed via the university’s policies and procedures website, have been approved by the president and the Board of Trustee, Harrison said.

“Generally, the entity that is responsible [for overseeing a policy review] depends on what the policy is,” Harrison said. “Some policies call for review more frequently because of the nature of the policy.”

Harrison said policies are reviewed by committees comprised of members that are handpicked based on subject expertise.

According to the Temple University Policy on Sexual Assault, the Presidential Oversight Committee – a body comprised of three faculty members, three students and three administrators – is designated to “review the effectiveness of the university’s policy and relevant programs and procedures.”

The policy also states, “The committee members will be appointed by the president to monitor current policies, programs and procedures relating to sexual assault.”

Harrison said the Presidential Oversight Committee has remained dormant because it deals mainly with programming. The Health Education Awareness Resource Team actively develops awareness programs, including those for sexual assault prevention.

“The [committee] that actually drafts and modifies the policy has always been a different committee,” Harrison added.

Harrison said when policies are under review, the respective committee reviews the policy and recommends revisions to the president. Certain policies require the president to present the revisions to the Board of Trustees.

Once both parties have approved all of the amendments and changes, the policy in question is officially amended.

The committee that reviewed the sexual assault policy was organized by the Office of University Counsel and included constituents from the Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance.

“Discrimination policies generally apply to employees as well as students,” Harrison said. “There’s a lot of legal implications in those policies as well as requirements, which is why the Office of University Counsel is involved [in the sexual assault policy review.]”

The topic of sexual assault was brought to local headlines in November when two Temple football players were accused of raping a female student. The Philadelphia Police Department said there have been no recent updates in the case.

The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network reports that one in six women and one in thirty-three men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that one in five college women will be sexually assaulted.

Still, 60 percent of sexual assaults go unreported, according to RAINN.

Stephanie Ives, the dean of students and associate vice president for Student Affairs, confirmed that students are allowed to report sexual assault “anonymously, or non-anonymously, but confidentially.”

“You may not have the most accurate count about the number of [victims] coming forward [if it’s reported anonymously],” Ives said. “However, sexual violence is the most underreported crime, so I would want to focus more on encouraging victims to come forward rather than letting them get caught up in how they come forward.”

“[We] just encourage them to come forward,” Ives added. “The focus is helping the victim and re-empowering victim so they know what all their options are and choose the best for them.”

Josh Fernandez and Maria Zankey can be reached at news@temple-news.com.

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