The University of Oregon has made preventing and responding to sexual assault a top priority. We are reviewing our practices, have added resources, and are hiring staff to strengthen our prevention efforts.
Universities everywhere are struggling to educate students about how to stay safe, what to do if they are sexually assaulted, and how to demonstrate respect for each other.
The University of Oregon is committed to becoming a model campus for preventing and educating students about sexual misconduct. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, too many students are being assaulted. One of the university’s best tools to keep students safe and deal with offenders is the student code of conduct.
Later today, I will ask the Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon to strengthen our conduct code with several important modifications. Some of these updates were approved by the University Senate at the close of spring term, and others are temporary measures to bring our code in line with recent best practices endorsed by the White House Sexual Assault Task Force.
The permanent senate-endorsed changes include expanding the jurisdiction of the conduct code, changing the definition of “sexual misconduct” to require explicit consent, and changing the standard of proof in all cases to a preponderance of evidence.
The temporary changes I am asking the board to consider include deleting language in the code that stalls the conduct process during breaks between terms or when a student is not registered, requiring all cases be resolved through administrative conference rather than a panel, allowing the right to an appeal in all cases, and reducing the number of days an accused student has to respond to conduct charges from 14 days to 7 days.
Again, these measures are designed to align our policies with federal laws and regulations for this year, but are temporary in order to protect our students while still allowing for thorough consultation before permanent changes to the code are made.
It is important to take these issues to the board now, before students return to campus. Our overarching goal is to create a safe campus climate for all UO students, where all feel welcome and respected. I welcome input from the entire campus community as we consider permanent changes to the conduct code and to our educational efforts surrounding this larger societal issue. We are committed to ending sexual assault and I invite you to help us eradicate unwanted sexual behavior on our campus.