University of Delaware

Title IX

University adopts revised sexual misconduct policy

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11:50 a.m., July 6, 2015--Effective July 1, the University of Delaware has adopted a revised sexual misconduct policy that applies to all members of the University community. 

The changes to the policy ensure the University is fully compliant with Title IX requirements as interpreted by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the federal agency responsible for enforcing Title IX, as well as with the federal Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) enacted last spring. 

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Title IX is a federal law that prohibits gender-based discrimination in the University’s programs and activities, and applies in sexual misconduct cases that include sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking and intimate partner violence.  

The revisions to UD’s policy were made in consultation with students and University leaders including the Board of Trustees, the Title IX Executive Committee, the Faculty Senate Commission on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault and Human Resources leaders.

The policy, available online at www.udel.edu/sexualmisconduct, is intended to keep the University community free from sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, stalking, dating violence and domestic violence. It is designed to ensure a safe and nondiscriminatory environment that protects the rights of students, faculty, staff, vendors, guests, visitors and volunteers. 

We are deeply committed to maintaining a safe campus and a strong climate of awareness and empowerment,” said Nancy Targett, acting president of the University. “All forms of sexual misconduct are taken very seriously at UD and it is critical that everyone on our campus understands their rights and responsibilities, and where to go for help.” 

What’s new?

The new policy pulls together all of the information related to sexual misconduct that was previously located in various separate policies. The comprehensive document makes it much easier for students, faculty and staff to locate and read information about the scope of UD’s policy, how incidents should be reported, how they are handled by the University, and the myriad options and resources available to victims of sexual misconduct. 

In addition, the website that houses the policy and related resources has been redesigned and renamed from Gender-Based Violence to Sexual Misconduct to enhance usability. 

As with the previous policy, any employee who is not considered a confidential resource has a responsibility to report sexual misconduct. The new document clarifies that when anyone witnesses, is advised of or learns about an alleged incident, he or she must promptly notify the University Title IX Coordinator.

“Reporting incidents about sexual misconduct on campus is critical,” said Susan Groff, director of institutional equity and University Title IX coordinator. “Reporting helps ensure that those involved get information about their rights as well as the resources available to help them both emotionally and academically.”  

In addition, the process for investigating student cases has changed from a full hearing procedure to one that involves one-on-one guidance from a trained professional.  As announced today, the University’s Office of Equity and Inclusion has appointed two staff members to serve in this role: Fatimah Stone, senior associate director, and Michael Kelly, associate director, special investigations.  Stone and Kelly are charged with ensuring a prompt, fair and neutral investigative process for all students, faculty, staff or visitors, and will provide assistance to victims of sexual misconduct.  

“We hope that the new policy and process empower individuals with information they need in situations involving sexual misconduct,” said Groff.  “If more individuals are comfortable and confident coming forward, it will help our campus community to be safer and more secure.”  

The policy will be presented to the Faculty Senate in September when the group will have an opportunity to provide additional feedback. 

Mandatory training

The Office of Equity and Inclusion will be administering a mandatory 30-minute online training for all employees to bring greater awareness of Title IX laws and UD’s policy, procedures and resources.  The training will be available from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.  Additional communication and instructions will be forthcoming from OEI. 

Anyone with questions about the University’s policy should contact the Office of Equity and Inclusion at 302-831-8063. 

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