Senate praises new sexual assault reporting policy

Many senators were elated with the new policy for sexual violence complaints that passed unanimously at the faculty senate meeting Wednesday.

The Student Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Complaint and Response policy was created to improve how the university responds to sexual harassment and violence complaints. The policy was originally approved by the senate in November, but additional changes were made to it before it was voted on again and given high-praise by senate members on Wednesday.

“I think that this policy is the model for the United States,” said one senator.

The policy outlines what UO employees must do when a student tells them about an experience of sexual harassment or assault. Most faculty and staff are no longer required to report what students disclose to them about sexual violence experiences. There are still certain university employees that are designated reporters, such as athletic directors, deans and department heads, residential assistants, and UOPD officers.

Melissa Barnes, the graduate student member on the policy task force, is pleased with how the policy turned out, however; she is uncomfortable that UOPD officers have to be on the list of designated reporters, something that was non-negotiable, she said. President Schill now needs to approve the policy in order for it to be put in place.

“I do expect the senate and President Schill to sign off on this and put the institution on the right side of history on these issues,” Barnes said.

At the meeting, the senate also discussed the possibility of creating a major declaration policy. Right now, students can declare a major at any point in their academic careers, including their senior year. The policy, proposed by Chair of Undergraduate Council Alison Schmitke, would make it so that in the spring of students’ sophomore years they would be required to declare a major.

Schmitke noted that students would be given plenty of warning, guidance, and preparation for choosing a major before the spring of their sophomore year. Students coming in with college credits would be expected to declare a major after their second year at UO, not based on their credits. If the major declaration policy is put in place, it take effective in fall 2017.

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Emma Henderson

Emma Henderson