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U of U to require sexual assault prevention course for students, faculty, staff

U of U to require sexual assault prevention course for students, faculty, staff (File photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) Students at the University of Utah will implement mandatory training for students, faculty and staff to prevent sexual assault.

University of Utah President, David W. Pershing has now accepted the recommendations of a campus safety task force and approved nearly $400,000 in funding for recommendations for campus safety.

Presented Wednesday, the recommendations call for a creation of a comprehensive campus safety website, an addition of new support personnel, and a mandatory sexual assault awareness training for all students and newly hired faculty and staff.

In an interview with university associate general counsel, Michele Ballantyne, explained the most significant changes coming from the task force.

Michele Ballantyne, general counsel for the university, said the most significant change is the “requirement that all incoming students have to complete a mandatory sexual assault prevention course and will have to re-take this course every other year.”

Ballantyne also explained how the task force will be hiring a new case manager, put funds towards campus lighting, and other student resources like the Woman Resource Center.

Along with the student training, all staff and faculty will be required to complete an anti-discrimination, sexual prevention, and bystander intervention training.

This mandatory training is expected to take place no later than the 2018 fall fiscal year.

Created in December 2017, the policy is co-chaired by Barb Snider, university vice president, and Ballantyne.

Pershing had asked the task force to focus on four specific areas for the 2017-18 budget before deciding on the official funding. These areas include:

  • What kind of prevention campaign is needed to reinforce a safe campus culture?
  • Does the U have sufficient personnel to respond to incidents and follow up with victims?
  • What improvements are needed to the campus’s physical infrastructure — lighting, security cameras, facilities — to improve safety?
  • Should there be required mandatory training for students, faculty and staff related to safety issues and at what level?

Pershing and Ballantyne said they believe this taskforce is a solid first step to help pave the way to a safer campus.

In a statement given by President Pershing, he further explains why he approved this funding and the importance for a safer campus.

Pershing explained why he approved the funding in a statement:

Let me be clear. There is no place for violence, sexual harassment or sexual assault at the University of Utah. It is a high priority for me and all the members of my administrative team to do all that we can to support those who experience trauma — in any form — and at the same time to promote awareness of and educate campus community members about our expectations for our campus culture. Each of us can contribute to making our campus a model of inclusion, respect and safety for everyone who visits, works and studies here. I ask you to join us in working toward that goal.

Pershing thanked the task force on Wednesday, and said reaching the final goal requires more work.

“Over a few short months, they accomplished much. Is our work complete? No, there is more to do to strengthen safety on our campus and support the needs of those who have experienced trauma," Pershing said. "I am pleased that Barb Snyder and Michele Ballantyne have agreed to oversee the next phase in these efforts”.

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