The University of Connecticut’s Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) recently adopted a new policy against discrimination, harassment and related interpersonal violence.
This policy includes sexual and gender-based harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, intimate partner violence, stalking, complicity, retaliation and inappropriate amorous relationships.
The OIE’s policy in the past was originally separated into two different policies. One of the policies was related to UConn employees and faculty, while the other was related to UConn students.
The newly adopted policy now encompasses both students and faculty. The purpose being to represent the UConn community as a whole, to provide clarity on specific obligations and rules to all individuals, and to have obligatory duties as a member of the UConn community to report any instances of sexual assault, harassment, discrimination and violence.
Along with these changes, the old policy stated that employees had an obligation to report any instances of sexual assault. However, the new policy now states all employees have an obligation to report any instances of stalking, intimate partner violence and sexual assault.
With this new policy, the OIE released three exceptions to an employee’s obligation to reporting these sexual instances.
These exceptions make it so employees are encouraged, but no longer obligated, to report these instances in three areas. According to this campus-wide policy, these areas include: public awareness events (e.g. “Take Back the Night” or “The Slut Walk”), during a student’s participation as a subject in an Institutional Review Board-approved human subjects research protocol and as part of coursework submitted to an instructor in connection with a course assignment.
Aside from these exceptions, all employees at all UConn campuses are obligated to report any instances of sexual assault, according to the new policy.
After adopting this new policy, the OIE launched a new website with information regarding accessibility, discrimination, affirmative action, policies/procedures and even a separate website regarding Title IX.
The newly launched University Title IX website provides information on how to report an incident on sexual assault.
In cases of sexual assault, students are encouraged to seek assistance at their discretion at the Counseling and Mental Health Services office on campus. However, since the CMHS office is a confidential service provided to students, they cannot release the information of students who attend counseling services. The sessions remain between the counselor and the student, therefore, information cannot be provided to the OIE if a student goes to CMHS first.
The OIE records all cases of sexual assault and provide students with assistance in seeking help in cases of trauma related incidences of sexual assault, discrimination, harassment and violence according to the new policy.
Deputy Title IX Coordinator Alexis Boyd said that the OIE has taken great strides over the past two years to make their mission to aid students and encourage employees to report any sexual incidences far more transparent for its community.
“There’s been a lot a lot of movement in the past few years to show students what resources are out there. We’ve done a lot to be more visible here on campus,” Boyd said. “Whether it be us, the police or student affairs, we’ve been showing our students we are making a combined effort to help them at all levels.”
Patrick Carignan is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.