CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — A new interim policy on sexual misconduct and gender-based violence at the University of Virginia requires that all complaints be examined by the school’s investigator or a trained external investigator.
The measure was put in place this week, after about a year of work by administrators and students, and was prompted by a U.S. Department ofEducation investigation. It includes detailed reporting procedures as well as sexual assault and misconduct education at the university. The policy also says students and employees can have an adviser at disciplinary hearings and provides an expanded guide for students seeking medical treatment, counseling or “no-contact” orders.
The changes, first reported by the Charlottesville Daily Progress, come four months after an explosive article in Rolling Stone magazine singled out the university for an alleged gang rape at a fraternity house as part of an examination of sexual violence on campuses. Charlottesville police said a monthslong investigation turned up no evidence of a sexual assault, or any wrongdoing by the school. Rolling Stone has admitted mistakes in its reporting and apologized.
A draft of the policy that was posted in November received feedback from about 600 individuals at the university, according to U.Va. spokesman Anthony de Bruyn.
Under the new policy, an investigator will produce a report after giving equal and ample opportunity for involved parties and witnesses to respond. The report will summarize the evidence, recommend a finding of “responsibility” or “no responsibility” based on a preponderance of the evidence standard. A review panel would then determine an appropriate sanction.
The Charlottesville school is one of about 150 institutions nationwide being investigated for potential violations of a federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in education due to their handling of investigations into sexual assault, harassment, stalking and intimate partner violence.
The policy still needs to be reviewed by the Education Department, U.Va.’s board of visitors and a group on climate and culture appointed by university President Teresa A. Sullivan. The university expects the policy will undergo additional revisions in the coming months following input and recommendations from internal and external reviews, de Bruyn said.
Information from: The Daily Progress, http://www.dailyprogress.com
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