Penn State University has introduced a series of new measures to crack down on student-to-student sexual assault.
The Penn State plan focuses on a more professional protocol for investigating complaints within the university's disciplinary system, a major effort to engage all students and faculty members as eyes and ears to potential problems, and the creation of a new administrative center to focus on gender-equity issues.
Among the recommendations:
- Creating a new Title IX coordinator position, with oversight over all gender-fairness issues on campus.
- Professionalizing the handling of sexual misconduct cases within the university's student discipline system by turning them over to a dedicated, professional investigator. After interviewing all relevant parties, the investigator would compile a report which, with the parties' input, would go to a panel of trained decision-makers to judge the defendant's responsibility and impose sanctions.
- Universal reporting responsibility for employees, with annual training to make sure that understand what that entails.
- Consideration of a required academic course for all first-year students that would address misuse of alcohol, sexual misconduct and other community-destroying behaviors.
- Development of a bystander involvement initiative, in which anyone seeing acts of personal violence or behaviors that may be a precursor to it is encouraged to take direct steps to intervene.
"We have no greater priority than the safety of our students, faculty and staff," said President Eric Barron, in announcing creation of the task force that completed the report.