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UI to re-evalute safety of minors on campus after Penn State scandal

BY ASMAA ELKEURTI | FEBRUARY 08, 2012 7:20 AM

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AMES — Higher education officials around the state say they're taking steps to avoid anything like what blemished Penn State University's reputation last year.

University of Iowa President Sally Mason told the state Board of Regents on Tuesday the UI policy for sexual misconduct would be reassessed.

"The University of Iowa has been reviewing its policies and practices regarding safety of minors on our campus to specifically address the topic of child-abuse prevention and reporting," Mason said. "Modifications of these policies are being added as well as more information regarding obligations for mandatory reporters of sexual abuse."

The regents and Gov. Terry Branstad first requested the mandatory reporting policies at regent universities be reviewed in December 2011 following allegations of sexual assaults of several young boys by a former assistant football coach at Penn State.

Though the UI has made no changes to its current policies, UI General Counsel Carroll Reasoner said the school would now focus on ensuring youth camps and programs geared toward minors are made more aware of the university's minor safety policies.

"This is more of a review," she said. "There are no major changes being made."

Reasoner also said officials would try to increase policy awareness with mandatory reporters.

Mason said the UI has more than 6,000 mandatory reporters on campus who are required to let authorities know of any sexual misconduct that occurs or is alleged on campus. UI mandatory reporters include health-care professionals, public-safety officers, social workers, psychologists, and counselors.

She also said the Enterprise Risk Management Team, composed of representatives from the General Counsel's office, UI police, Office of Sexual Misconduct, and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, first made policy review for minors in 2010.

UI Student Life, General Counsel, Risk Management and University Relations have also met over the course of the past year to discuss issues of minors on campus, particularly with athletics camps and various other camps.

Mason also discussed current procedures the university implements for background checks on UI employees and staff members. Officials also check employees and students against the Sex Offender Registry, she said.

Each university official asserted policies for safety of minors on campus was were important, and so did the board.

"I think this is an extremely important issue today," said Regents' President Craig Lang. "I think in my own life … as a grandfather, it's even more important. It seems very obvious that everyone's on top of it."


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