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Officials release sanctions for sexual assault

BY CHRIS HIGGINS | SEPTEMBER 05, 2014 5:00 AM

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University of Iowa President Sally Mason announced via email Thursday that the UI has set new sanctioning guidelines for students who commit sexual assault, with consequences ranging from probation to expulsion.

The mass-message to UI students, faculty, and staff defined what the UI classifies as sexual assault and listed factors that would lead to harsher consequences, such as intimidation or the use of force.

The email also revealed a student had been expelled over the summer for committing sexual assault, the second in the past calendar year.

“We take sexual assaults very seriously,” Mason said in the email. “We must continue to address this problem, and we must not rest until it is eliminated entirely.”

Officials have stated a desire to ramp up efforts to combat sexual assault after controversy erupted in February, when Mason told The Daily Iowan in a Q&A “the goal would be to end that, to never have another sexual assault. That’s probably not a realistic goal, just given human nature …”

Jen Carlson, the executive director of Rape Victim Advocacy Program, said she was “very pleased” with the formalized sanctions and said the expulsion will help maintain a safe campus.

“I do applaud the university’s dedication for holding students who are found accountable for violating the student code and holding them accountable for those actions,” she said.

One UI graduate disagreed. “They have not truly responded to our demands,” said KT Hawbaker-Krohm, who was heavily involved with organizing protests related to Mason’s comment last semester. “They’re still taking the perpetrator’s side. They’re not considering the volume or the pain involved in the trauma that the victim is feeling.”

She said she is glad officials took a step to expel a perpetrator, but that “they’re finding ways to coddle people who are committing these crimes and treating the victim as second-class.”

She said she would like to see a “zero-tolerance” policy for sexual assault on campus, but UI Vice President for Student Life Tom Rocklin said the university does not tolerate sexual assault whatsoever.

Rocklin also said the university looked at other policies for other schools but based the sanctions on the UI’s own existing code of conduct.

“Every student is held responsible for violations of our sexual-assault policy and sanctioned,” he said.

Committees from various UI departments drafted the formalized sanctions, and the UI Antiviolence Coalition and President’s Student Advisory Committee members received the draft for final review.

Advisory Committee member Grant Laverty is happy with Thursday’s developments.

“President Mason, along with the rest of the administration, are very passionate about the prevention and enforcement of sexual misconduct,” he said.

Community members staged a modest protest Thursday evening on the Pedestrian Mall in response to the third reported sexual assault this school year. Six people were present in the first half-hour.

Attendee Kate Hawbaker-Krohn, KT’s wife, said it was intended to “draw attention to a culture that exists on campus that allows sexual predators to go unpunished, unquestioned.”

She said the university can do more to combat sexual assault.

“It seems as if no one is really asking why,” Kate Hawbaker-Krohn said. “It’s positive that they are making the easiest, hands-on things they can change. Bear in mind, the easiest.”


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