University creates new sexual assault policyBy Sabrina L. Miller
Recognizing that sexual assault is a “severe, distinctive and underreported problem,” the University announced in April a new University of Chicago Sexual Assault Policy. The policy provides a University statement on and a definition of sexual assault, lists resources and support services, and summarizes University disciplinary procedures.
Former Provost Richard Saller appointed a nine-member committee of faculty, students and staff last year to craft the policy, which can be found online at http://www.uchicago.edu/sexualassault/.
“Sexual assault is a traumatic event that can leave someone feeling the need to reclaim control of her or his life. This policy endeavors to assist and bring some clarity. It also gathers resources because when people need them, they often need them acutely,” said Ingrid Gould, Assistant Vice-President and Associate Provost, who chaired the committee.
Gould said the committee hopes that the policy will be useful to University disciplinary committees as they address cases of sexual assault.
The committee, began working on the policy in Spring 2006. After discussing, researching and drafting a policy, the committee solicited feedback from many individuals at the University whose expertise informed the final version that was promulgated in April, said Gould.
The policy applies to students, staff, postdoctoral scholars and fellows, faculty and other academic personnel, and to anyone on whom the University has formally conferred a title, regardless of employment status. It provides an extensive list of University and external resources and support services for people dealing with sexual assault.
Fourth-year student Michelle Rengarajan, a member of the committee, said the policy makes it easier for sexual assault victims to locate resources to aid in their recovery.
“Through a policy, survivors have a better ability to know their rights and the process into which they are entering when they pursue action within the University after sexual assault,” Rengarajan stated.
Provost Thomas Rosenbaum said, “In our community, respect for individuals and respect for ideas are paramount. The University’s new sexual assault policy affirms our commitment to the integrity of the individual and clarifies both rights and responsibilities under the policy. While we wish there were not a need for such a policy, we do recognize that, unfortunately, there is.”