University of Colorado Chancellor Phillip P. DiStefano speaks at the Chancellor's Town Hall meeting in CU's Old Main building on Thursday, April 18, 2013. (Nate Bruzdzinski/CU Independent File)

CU announces updates to sex-related crime procedures

Following the completion of an external review of CU’s sexual harassment and assault policies, the university announced on Monday three modifications the Boulder campus will make to practices regarding sex-related crimes.

The updates to CU’s Title IX and Violence Against Women Act procedures are three of the approximately 40 recommendations presented to CU in a review of Pepper Hamilton LLP’s audit, invoked six months ago, and include a new staff position to oversee complaints, enhanced communication and increased training.

The changes  do not directly address the concerns raised last summer by an assault victim whose case was the root of a federal investigation that led to the review.

Chancellor Philip DiStefano called for the external review on July 24, 2013, three days after CU became aware of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights’ investigation.

The investigation stemmed from a 20-year-old student’s complaint to the U.S. Department of Education on May 16, 2013. The victim claimed she suffered additional trauma in the month that CU took to remove her assaulter from campus.

The review suggested that CU expand programming to incorporate the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE) Act, a new part of the U.S. Violence Against Women Act that specifically requires institutes of higher education to provide “prompt, fair, and impartial investigation and resolution” into sex crimes.

Ryan Huff, campus spokesman, said that a task force was organized around the Campus SaVE Act when it became law in March 2013, and concluded that no new campus policies were necessary to comply with it or the encompassing Violence Against Women Act.

“That task force has met and decided we’re already complying with the Act,” Huff said.

Since then, the external review found similar results through their consultation of CU policies, statistics, training requirements and other written materials provided by CU’s Office of Discrimination and Harassment, as well as university websites and 29 members of the faculty and staff.

“We find that the University’s policies and practices satisfy current legal requirements,” the review said. “We observed a strong level of commitment and dedication demonstrated by the individual implementers we encountered.”

Huff said that the firm also reached out to victims of sexual assault and other people with firsthand experience of campus procedures for addressing Title IX offenses, but no procedures or hearings were witnessed in person.

Additional changes to Title IX procedures may be announced in the near future, Huff said.

Contact CU Independent Breaking News Editor Alison Noon at Alison.noon@colorado.edu.

About Alison Noon

Alison is a senior at University of Colorado Boulder studying journalism and political science. She likes to run around outdoors when there's time.

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