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New UI sex-harassment policy open for comments

BY MORGAN OLSEN | FEBRUARY 10, 2010 7:30 AM

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UI students could soon report unwelcome behavior before it becomes sexual harassment under new revisions to the university’s sexual-harassment policy.

One revision of the proposal states “individuals who have experienced unwelcome sexual behavior are encouraged to report it, even if they are not certain whether a violation of the policy has occurred,” according to a revision.

UI officials said they hope the revision will encourage students to speak up in uncomfortable situations.

“We wanted to include this because sometimes people don’t know if what occurred is sexual harassment,”said Jonathan Carlson, the senior associate to UI President Sally Mason and organizer of the project team that evaluated the policy. “We want to encourage reporting before a situation could get worse.”

Other revisions include a proposal that would notify the alleged victim of what is occurring in the investigation, opposed to the victim waiting until the investigation is complete. In addition, allegations against UI students would be handled solely by the dean of students.

“It provides consistency between the Sexual Misconduct policy and the sexual harassment policy,” said Dean of Students David Grady.

UI officials revised the policy on sexual misconduct involving students last spring after the state Board of Regents criticized them for their handling of the alleged sexual-assault case reportedly involving two then-Hawkeye football players and a female student in Hillcrest.

“We created the best of the best policy for our students,” said UI Faculty Senate President David Drake. “Now, we want our sexual-harassment policy to match that.”

The proposed revisions to the sexual-harassment policy were shared with the UI community in a mass e-mail last week.

“The next step is to get feedback from the campus community,” Carlson said. “We hope to hear from a wide array of people and give President [Sally] Mason something good, an improvement on the policy.”

Comments and concerns from students and faculty will be processed, and the proposal will be changed to reflect the feedback. The UI Council on the Status of Women will discuss the proposed policy at its meeting on Thursday.

“The policy alone won’t encourage or discourage sexual-harassment reporting,” said Monique DiCarlo, the UI’s coordinator for sexual-misconduct response. “The policy plus the way people implement it will improve reporting.”


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