Policies Approved For Handling Ga. College Sexual Assault Claims

Georgia’s Board of Regents adopted two policies Wednesday that address how state colleges handle sexual assault allegations.

Last year, a state committee found schools deal with claims of rape and other assaults differently. So the group came up with a statewide set of procedures, including training for staff and access to legal counsel for the accused and alleged victims.

“These policies represent the culmination of many hours of collaborative efforts and research, each dedicated toward ensuring that the interests of the victim and the accused are protected,” said Gina Sheeks, the vice president of student services at Columbus State University, who served on the committee.

But Georgia Tech student Kate Napier, who started a campus group that opposes the measures, said the new policies subject alleged victims to interviews, which could be traumatizing.

“I ask myself, ‘How can a board composed of 89 percent men ever really understand what it’s like to live with the reality that you’re vulnerable to sexual assault?’” Napier told the board’s Organization and Law committee. “I’m asking that you table the policy today.”

However, the Regents passed the policies unanimously.

A spokesperson for the board says the policies give alleged victims alternatives if they’re not comfortable being interviewed.

Napier said Georgia Tech’s sexual assault policies do a better job of protecting potential victims.

“Georgia Tech has a much stronger definition of consent,” she said. “It indicates that consent must be given at every step of sexual activity, and there’s no clear definition in their policy.”

University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby said the new policies outline core responsibilities and that the schools can add to the requirements if they choose.

“There may be other policies and procedures that are unique to that campus that will stay in place, but these will be the core policies for student behavior, alcohol abuse, sexual assault. These are the policies that will govern that,” he said.

The new policies will take effect July 1.

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