President Coltrane moves ahead on senate recommendations

Interim UO President Scott Coltrane will establish a $15,000 emergency fund and take other steps toward quickly putting into place the recommendations of a UO Senate task force on sexual misconduct.

In a message sent to members of the task force and posted on the president’s web page, Coltrane said he would either enact the recommendations or order steps taken to put them in place as quickly as possible. He said he agrees with the intent of all five recommendations submitted by the group, known as the Senate Task Force to Address Sexual Violence and Survivor Support.

In addition to the emergency fund, which will supplement the $190,000 that has been allocated for prevention programming since August, Coltrane agreed to send out a campuswide email to all university employees outlining Title IX issues. The message will identify the Title IX officer and campus resources and responsibilities under the federal act.

Also, the president is asking the Division of Student Life to look for ways to improve how Title IX information is communicated and to work with the task force to make any changes.

The task force also called for a new Good Samaritan policy that would eliminate the threat of punitive action under the student conduct code for anyone reporting sexual misconduct or providing witness statements. Coltrane said he agrees with the recommendation and said it already is being put into practice while policy language is being written.

The president  supports the formal policy change but said some additional discussion is needed. He has asked the Division of Student Life to review the draft policy submitted by the task force and “forward a policy for my immediate consideration” while continuing current practices that are in line with the policy’s intent.

Similarly, Coltrane said he supports the task force recommendation on having information on sexual misconduct included on course syllabi and discussed in classrooms. He has asked acting Provost Frances Bronet to review a proposed syllabus statement and discussion guide and send a draft to the UO Senate for approval as soon as possible.

The fifth recommendation involves anonymous reports submitted online and whether identifying information is retained by the UO Police Department. The task force said the system stores the IP address of incoming reports and recommends stopping the practice to encourage reporting of sexual misconduct.

Coltrane said eliminating the IP address raises the technological issues that “are not simple and warrant additional examination.” He has directed UOPD to share information on the issue along with options for addressing it.

Coltrane said UOPD is not accessing the IP address information and he has ordered that practice to continue while the technical issues are addressed.

The recommendations come as the President’s Review Panel also looks at the issues surrounding sexual misconduct and violence with a goal of issuing recommendations in October. Also, Division of Student Life, the Provost’s Office and the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity are expected to issue recommendations of their own.

Also, the Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon recently approved a set of changes to the student conduct code recommended by Coltrane to improve the response to sexual violence.

Coltrane praised the senate task force for working with the review panel to address the issues.

“I am very encouraged to see our campus working together to find solutions and promising practices that will make our students, faculty, staff and campus visitors safer,” Coltrane wrote.

―By Greg Bolt, Public Affairs Communications