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Sexual assault policy faces reform

Public forum discusses changes to existing policy

Timeline+of+proposed+policy+changes.
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Sexual assault policy faces reform

Timeline of proposed policy changes.

Timeline of proposed policy changes.

Timeline of proposed policy changes.

Timeline of proposed policy changes.

By Sam Jackson, Copy Editor

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EWU could experience a more organized and faculty involved process for addressing sexual misconduct and discrimination on campus.

EWU Policy 402-01: Discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Sexual and Interpersonal Violence is facing a change proposal for it to become two separate policies. The current policy could be divided into EWU Policy 402-01: Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Responsibilities and EWU Policy 402-02: Diversity and Nondiscrimination.

An open forum regarding the policy change was held on Nov. 8 in the JFK Auditorium. Introducing the current policy and the new policy changes at the forum was Annika Scharosch, the associate vice president for Civil Rights, Compliance and Enterprise Risk Management  and campus policy administrator.

The idea for the proposed change came from feedback that EWU received from its faculty, according to Scharosch. The feedback suggested that the policy was so large that it was hard to follow. The policy was large because discrimination complaints and sexual harassment/misconduct complaints followed different processes. They were all combined into the same policy which Scharosch said “was historically what had worked” but has since become more complicated.

Proposal: EWU Policy 402-01 Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Responsibilities

The new policy proposal focuses on “EWU’s commitment and response to reports of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, intimate partner violence, stalking and retaliation,” according to the Nov. 8, 2018 Policy Forum handout.

“In addition to taking out the discrimination part, we also moved the reporting part up to the top of the policy,” Scharosch said. “We have received feedback that people have had a hard time figuring out what their reporting responsibilities were. […] We did not change that employees are mandatory reporters of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, but we did add some language to remind people that if you violate a policy you could be subject to discipline.”

Scharosch says there are a lot more subtle differences in the policy and that the language is different.

“For example the proposed policy now uses terms like non-consensual sexual contact, non-consensual sexual intercourse and there’s a new provision explicitly defining what it means to be incapacitated due to the use of alcohol or drugs,” Scharosch said. “We’ve also got some new language in there about our investigative process and interim measures. Just fleshing out some of those things that the university already does and making sure they are included in the policy language.”

Another revision within this policy is that the term “victim” has been changed to “complainant.” This revision raised conversation at the forum and EWU’s Title IX coordinator Jeff Lamoureaux explained that the change came from “conduct terminology,” and EWU is trying to stay away from the use of “criminal terminology.” Lamoureaux said that the policy is open to using another term if students or faculty have alternative suggestions.

A section about how to file an internal complaint if someone believes the university has violated Title IX has been added into this policy.

“So, as it currently reads, it’s much more about a complaint against an individual, but if somebody feels like the university, the university’s process, whatever it is violating Title IX, there’s an internal option as well to report that,” Scharosch said.

Proposal: EWU Policy 402-02 Diversity and Nondiscrimination

With some new language added in, Sharosch says it could look like an entirely new policy has been created, but a lot of the information has been moved over from the current policy.

“Our nondiscrimination policy covers discrimination of the basis of any protected status which includes a long list of things like race, gender, national origin, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, pregnancy, disability,” Scharosch said. “So, all of those we’re proposing that we put in one policy and the procedures are largely the same on what we do when we receive a complaint of discrimination.”

A major change addressed in this policy is that the 180-day limit to file a complaint when an event has occurred has been eliminated. So far it is undecided what the new limit will be, but it will certainly be more than a year, according to Scharosch.

“I think the most beneficial change of that [policy] is removing the 180-day policy, because I mean there’s definitely instances where people experience things in the past where [they felt like they] couldn’t speak up and then later on they can,” EWU junior and forum attendee Cody McPherson said. “And being given the 180-day policy, they can’t speak about that thing that happened in the past, and it just goes unheard of, and I feel like it’s something that should be heard of.”

Similar to the sexual misconduct policy, employees are made mandatory reporters of any information they are made aware of for discrimination complaints. They must notify the director of Equal Opportunity within 24 hours. They may be notified in person, by email or phone.

“We are now telling employees if this moves forward that if somebody comes forward to you and says for example ‘the police discriminated against me on the basis of race when they arrested me on Friday,’ then you need to tell the director of Equal Opportunity that somebody reported that to you,” Scharosch said. “Or if somebody comes forward and says, ‘this faculty member discriminated against me on the basis of disability,’ that employee needs to tell the director of Equal Opportunity.”

The final day to submit comments and suggestions about these policies is Nov. 21. To submit and find more information about what’s included in the potential policies, go to ewu.edu/policies/policies-categories/policy-items-in-process/. The final proposal will be presented to the Board of Trustees for second read on Dec. 7.

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Sexual assault policy faces reform