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ASG to further publicize changes to sexual assault hearings process

Sophia Bollag and Olivia Exstrum

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Associated Student Government is working with administrators to better publicize how students can report sexual assault under the University’s new disciplinary hearing and appeals process, ASG officials said this week.

Chris Harlow, who heads ASG’s Student Life Committee, said he is in discussions with administrators to improve the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution’s website to better explain the University Hearing and Appeals System, which was revamped in September.

Although the current website is up to date, it doesn’t adequately explain the complex UHAS process, the SESP junior said.

“Student Conduct’s website right now is just awful,” he said. “(We’ve) been harping on them for two months about this.”

Harlow said he will meet with Dean of Students Todd Adams soon to discuss the development of a new website describing the process for reporting a sexual assault. The Student Life Committee has started to discuss how to improve publicity of the process now that the committee is better organized and prepared to tackle the issue, Harlow said.

Title IX Coordinator Joan Slavin said in an email to The Daily she is working to create a frequently asked questions section of the Title IX website, to answer “common questions” people may have about the process.

Adams did not respond to requests for comment for this article Monday.

The University overhauled the UHAS process in September, which included dissolving the separate process for handling sexual assault complaints — the Sexual Assault Hearing and Appeals System. Now, sexual assault complaints will be handled under the revamped UHAS process. In a change from the old system, students reporting sexual misconduct will not need to be in the same room as the alleged assailant for the hearing. The hearing panels for sexual assault cases will also no longer include students.

Harlow said that although it could have been publicized better, the new process is less complicated and easier to explain than the old one.

“In the past … there were a lot of complexities, which made it a long drawn out process,” Harlow said. The process now is better than the old process for sure. It places so much less burden on the victim (and) is much more victim-friendly.”

However, he noted the new process is still challenging to explain.

“If you go to the (Student) Handbook, it’s multiple pages in length because there’s many steps along the way,” he said. “To accurately convey that, which is what they want to do, is very challenging.”

Tara Sullivan, director of student conduct and conflict resolution, said she and other administrators have given presentations about the new process to groups including ASG, resident assistants, student group leaders, Greek life leaders, Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators and Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault.

“Our approach to drafting and rolling out the new UHAS was very collaborative and included input from a number of student leaders and groups of students on campus,” she said in an email to The Daily. “Through the drafting phase and the rollout phase we hosted opportunities for students to provide input and learn about the new process.”

ASG President Julia Watson said that although the new process is improved, it should have been better publicized.

“We can always do a better job of publicizing these things,” the Weinberg senior said. “Chris’ committee is talking about publicizing changes and making sure the text in the handbook is word for word shown to students but at the same time translated to students (so they know) why they should care.”

Correction: Due to incorrect information from a source, a previous version of this article misstated when Harlow and Adams plan to meet. They have plans to meet soon.

Email: sophiabollag@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @SophiaBollag

Email: oliviaexstrum2017@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @olivesocean


Previous stories on this topic:

    Northwestern to add Title IX investigator amid process overhaul
    New disciplinary rules include independent investigator in student conduct disputes


 

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