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University releases new sexual assault policy

Updated policy released during raising awareness campaign

By Rachel Cisto | 11/12/14 | Updated 11/12/14 | Posted in News, Campus News

At the beginning of the year, the University launched their own version of the "No More" campaign. Coming out of the recent incidents of partner violence and assault within professional sports, No More is dedicated to raising awareness and reducing these types of attacks.

A few weeks after launching the campaign, the school released an updated policy about handling sexual assaults on campus. However, Title IX Coordinator Susan Fitzgerald says that the two campaigns were not originally related.

"I think No More came out of all the stuff that's gone on at the professional athletes, and they started this campaign that we thought was pretty good," says Fitzgerald. "We're using it as part of our sexual assault awareness."

The new, rewritten policy shares many similarities to the one it's replacing. Fitzgerald says that while all alleged assaults are still handled by a board of trained staff members and involved students are still brought in front of the board and allowed to appeal the findings of the board, even though Connecticut state law requires all sexual assaults be reported to the authorities.

"It used to be that if a student came to any of us and reported a sexual assault and said 'I don't want to report it, I just want to talk,' we'd honor that. The law now says that we can't do that."

However, director of Public Safety John Schmaltz says that the new policies don't affect how cases are addressed.

"We don't like to just refer students to law enforcement and let law enforcement handle it. We like being side-by-side, whether it's a student accused of a crime or a student who's a victim of a crime, internally here on campus, we try to ensure that everyone gets a fair shake and that their side of the story gets told."

He says that many of the Public Safety officers are former police officers and are already trained in the proper way to handle these cases.

Both Fitzgerald and Schmaltz encourage those who may have been victims of sexual assault to come forward.

The new sexual assault policy can be found in The Source, the University's handbook. The Source can be found here: http://www.hartford.edu/studentaffairs/files/pdf/sourcefinal.pdf

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