UO launches comprehensive initiatives to address sexual assault

University of Oregon interim President Scott Coltrane has announced a sweeping set of initiatives to prevent sexual assault, encourage reporting, increase support and investigations, and ensure fair and robust accountability on campus. Coltrane sent an email to campus detailing the initiatives and calling on the campus community to help change the campus culture.

The initiatives start with creating a new assistant vice president to coordinate the efforts across campus around prevention, education, support and response, and serve as the primary advisor to the president and vice president for student life. In addition to this new position, the president announced the commitment to invest an additional $500,000 per year in new prevention and response programs, as well as hiring new educators and investigators before the start of the next academic year.

“These immediate actions will help us ensure that we meet our critically important responsibility of providing a safe, respectfully learning environment free from sexual violence and discrimination for our students,” said interim President Coltrane.

The comprehensive effort stems from a nearly yearlong review of the university’s sexual assault policies and practices. Coltrane says the university has implemented or will enact more than 100 recommendations from three internal and external reviews, which will be led by the new Assistant Vice President.

The comprehensive plan focuses on three areas: oversight and accountability; prevention and education; and support and response. In addition to hiring the assistant vice president, Coltrane says the university will make a series of key investments in each of the three areas including:

Oversight and Accountability

  • Immediately launch the search for an assistant vice president for campus sexual assault and Title IX coordination - see more details about this position here.
  • Create a permanent advisory council focused on reducing sexual violence and other forums of sexual and gender misconduct, and promote responsibly, safety and respect - the president is seeking nomination from faculty, students, staff and community members.

Prevention and Education

  • Launch a new bystander intervention program to empower students to intervene to encourage positive behavior and prevent sexual assault - this program will help students and others learn to interrupt potential harmful situation by saying something or doing something. The program will be put in place before the fall 2015 academic term.
  • Increase amount and frequency of prevention education programming - The UO is providing additional funding to expand the highly successful Sexual Wellness Awareness Team program and new funding to offer prevention education throughout the year to ensure all students benefit from the education.
  • Conduct bi-annual sexual violence campus climate surveys starting this spring - The UO has authorized a national climate survey by the AAU and a locally create climate survey that will be conducted this April to help understand the issues and assess our effort in the future.

Response and Support

  • Increase the capacity for the university to investigate sexual misconduct - The UO recently hired an additional investigator and will make a temporary investigator position permanent in the Office of Affirmative Action.
  • Designate two new Title IX officers - The new AVP will be the designed Title IX coordinator. The Director of Affirmative Action will be a deputy Title IX coordinator, and the Senior Women Athletics Director will also be trained as a deputy Title IX coordinator to add capacity to coordinate university response and investigations. Title IX is a federal law that requires access to education regardless of gender and in the cases of reports of sexual harassment including sexual assault.
  • Increase number of confidential reporters and better educate campus about reporting responsibilities - To encourage reporting, the university has created three new confidential reporting options in the Ombudsperson Office and in the Dean of Students office in addition to the current options. Reporting options and information are available by visiting SAFE.uoregon.edu or by calling 1-542-346-SAFE

Coltrane immediately allocated the $500,000 and has assigned an internal management team to work with the AVP and advisory council to ensure all of the initiatives are launched by fall.

“Each and every one of us has to stand up and take responsibility for this problem that continues to devastate lives,” said Coltrane. “We need to better educate our faculty and staff, empower and support our students and encourage bystander intervention. All of these concepts are imbedded in this plan, because it really is on all of us.”

He also highlighted some of the recommendations the university has already implement in the last 18 months including:

  • New prevention and response website, printed material and a 24/7 confidential hotline: SAFE.uoregon.edu and 541-346-SAFE
  • Two new Office of Affirmative Action sexual violence investigators
  • New prevention and response staff positions
  • Creation of an emergency survivor support fund for assistance with services such as housing or transportation
  • New women’s self-defense credit classes
  • Student Conduct Code changes to improve process and accountability, as well as expand the conduct code off campus
  • Additional confidential reporting options in the Dean of Students Office and the Ombudsperson’s Office
  • MOU agreement with Eugene Police to coordinate investigations with UOPD and the university
  • Auditing Fraternity and Sorority Life and sanctions now posted for review

For additional information about the comprehensive plan, visit the Office of the President website.