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University of Iowa News Release

July 7, 2004

Skorton To Implement Recommendations On Preventing Sexual Harassment/Violence

University of Iowa President David Skorton today announced that he would implement the recommendations of an ad hoc committee that examined the campus climate regarding issues of personal safety and freedom from harassment and assault.

Appointed in February 2003 by interim President Willard L. "Sandy" Boyd, the Climate Committee was asked to recommend how best to communicate University policies against harassment and violence; what additional training and resources may be necessary to reduce assault and harassment on campus and to fairly deal with alleged victims and offenders; and whether the campus could benefit from discussions or a conference to fully air issues of harassment and violence. The committee tendered its report to Skorton in September 2003. Since that time, Skorton has been discussing its recommendations with his vice presidents and with campus constituents.

"I want to repeat my sincere thanks to the members of the committee for their efforts," Skorton said. "The response from the campus has been clearly in favor of adopting their recommendations. As I said last fall when I received the report, these recommendations have already started us down the road toward the goal of promoting trust, healing and growth.

"It's also important to note that the committee strongly recommended that university administrators publicly support the individuals and offices that investigate and enforce sexual harassment and sexual violence policies," Skorton added. "I intend to be vigorous and vocal in my support, and will insist that our vice presidents, deans, department heads, and unit directors do the same.

"I believe that our policies will be most effective if we ensure that due process is followed in investigating and prosecuting cases, and that any penalties imposed must fit the facts of each particular case," Skorton said. "However, I also believe that our policies must be enforced vigorously, impartially, and in a timely manner."

The Climate Committee's recommendation were divided into four areas:

1. Administrative leadership and training

-- The president should send a letter to parents of incoming first-year students regarding UI policies and penalties regarding alcohol and drug abuse and sexual harassment and violence.

-- Each fall, the UI should notify all faculty, staff and students about policies on sexual harassment and violence.

-- All academic and administrative officers should regularly receive training about what constitutes sexual harassment and violence as well as specific UI procedures to be followed when responding to reports of sexual harassment and violence. New faculty and teaching assistants should also be made aware of policies and procedures.

2. Raising education and awareness within the University

-- The UI should replicate the Campus Survey on Sexual Harassment last performed in 1993 to better understand the extent of the problem and learn whether community members are aware of resources to assist victims.

-- A poster, series of posters, and/or maps of the campus and Iowa City should be created to provide information about what constitutes sexual harassment and violence and what resources exist to assist victims.

-- Students, especially first-year students, should be educated about sexual harassment and violence. New educational programs should specifically address issues of racial and ethnic diversity, including cultural differences in the definition of harassment and assault.

-- The UI Lecture Committee should be encouraged to invite prominent speakers on the issue of sexual harassment and violence. Likewise the UI should sponsor programs that have achieved success in reducing sexual violence on other campuses.

-- Resident advisers in UI residence halls should be required to complete training focusing on alcohol and its relationship to sexual assault and other violence.

3. Collaborating with external constituencies

-- The UI should communicate in a non-confrontational manner with bar owners about alcohol-related sexual assaults. In addition, a task force including downtown business and bar owners should examine the relationship between alcohol and violence.

-- Poster and/or business card campaigns should be adopted for use in residence halls and bars. The campaign should pose questions about getting and giving consent for sexual relationships.

-- The UI and local government should explore reinstituting a safe transit service after dark.

4. Improving and enforcing policies and procedures

-- Persons who report sexual harassment to UI administrators should be informed of the resources of the Rape Victim Advocacy Program (RVAP). RVAP's phone number should be consistently mentioned in publicity materials as the place for consultation, information and support regarding sexual harassment or sexual violence.

-- Penalties for violations of the sexual harassment/assault policy should be handed down promptly and be more effective, and in some cases more severe, than in the past.

-- UI administrators should be required to report annually on the actions that they have taken to maintain civility and respect and to prevent sexual harassment and violence in their units.

-- The president, provost and Vice Presidents must publicly state their support for individuals and offices that investigate and enforce the sexual harassment/violence policy.

-- Each year the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity should publish statistics on the number of complaints of sexual harassment/violence and the outcome of those complaints, including penalties imposed. The report should be published in the Daily Iowan.

View the report at http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2003/october/102403climate-report.html

STORY SOURCE: University Relations, 101 Jessup Hall, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1000.

MEDIA CONTACT: Steve Parrott, steven-parrott@uiowa.edu, phone 319-335-0552, cell 530-6972