By Ashley Allen, Chattanooga, Tenn., — An open forum held last week by SGA was highly charged with student’s opinions about policies in place regarding sexual assault on campus.
The new interim policy, released by Chancellor Angle Jan. 5, encourages victims of sexual assault on campus to report incidents to administration and campus police. The 59-page document which was released with Angle’s letter addresses definitions, rights of students and resources for students who are also victims.
“I feel like the new policy that Chancellor Angle has put into place could really show UTC students that the administration realizes that proper procedure was not followed with previous cases,” said Victoria Stafford, Chattanooga junior. “It shows they are ready to make students feel comfortable with coming forward with possible assaults and complaints again.”
During the forum, Dean of Students James Hicks explained in detail what happens when a complaint is filed and what the process entails.
Dr. Nancy Badger, assistant vice chancellor of Student Services and director of the Counseling and Personal Development Center, explained that if they began to notice a pattern in victims’ attacks, they would ask the victim if he or she would mind them reporting it to someone else.
If the victim does not consent, then they can’t disclose the name, but they can take the issue to Hicks and explain the pattern they are observing without the mention of a victim’s name.
If the student opts to not release his or her name, then the administration will be limited on want they can do.
Another popular question focuses on transparency, specifically in regards to the handling of the sexual misconduct case involving former UTC wrestler Corey Mock and Molly Morris during Spring semester 2014. Questions were aimed at the case to shed light on more confusing aspects of the school’s judicial panel and why they were allowed to act the way they did in the case.
“The whole issue here, really, is not an question of whether or not we need a new policy, it’s more a question of whether or not the old policy was followed in the first place,” said sophomore Cassidy Primm, Lewisburg, Tenn., to News Channel 12. “If the old policy wasn’t followed, how will the new policy be followed?”
Faculty were also present to speak out about the necessity of education about sexual assault on an classroom level.
“Faculty need to get well acquainted with Title IX, know what sexual harassment is, know the kinds of behaviors that Title IX prohibits and how to create an climate in the classroom that is discouraging of these kinds of problems,” said Dr. Marcia Noe, director of women’s studies, in the Channel 12 interview.
Students wanted to know how officials will be selected to handle these cases and how they will be held accountable, if the policy is not followed as it supposed to be.
The forum comes during a pending investigation into the University’s policies toward Title IX by the U.S. Office of Civil Rights. The investigation also played a hand into implementing a new Interim Policy on Sexual Misconduct and Relationship Violence.