BGSU implements efforts to address sexual assault

The Bowling Green State University  Task Force on Sexual Assault has completed its work and issued a final report of recommendations to address sexual assault on the university’s campuses. President Mary Ellen Mazey has announced that all of the recommendations will be implemented.

“As a community, we must all come together to prevent assaults from occurring on our campuses,” Mazey said. “I am extremely pleased with the progress we’ve made and the direction we’re taking.”

Mazey appointed the task force, which is comprised of students, faculty, staff and a victim advocate, in May. The charge of the task force was to review university policies and procedures for Title IX and sexual assault, benchmark university efforts against best practices from across the country and provide recommendations to improve policies, campus culture, and education and prevention efforts.

Key recommendations include additional staffing and resources to support several new and enhanced efforts. For example, the university will be creating a new center focused on sexual violence prevention, advocacy and wellness. Reporting, investigative and hearing processes will be improved to ensure an empathetic, thorough, fair and respectful process for all involved parties and support services will be strengthened.

Also recommended are increased training and education, including widespread promotion of and enhanced support for the “It’s On Us” campaign and its bystander intervention techniques.

“It’s On Us is a cultural movement aimed at shifting the way we think about sexual assault,” said Alex Solis, task force co-chair. “Sexual assault is not only a crime committed by a perpetrator against a victim, but a societal problem in which all of us have a role to play.”

Task force co-chair Meg Burrell added, “Anyone can be a bystander to a situation; it is up to each of us to be an active bystander and take a stand and intervene when appropriate.”

In addition, mandatory training for students, faculty and staff will be implemented and a male engagement coordinator will be added. This coordinator will be responsible for educational programs, mentoring and community building; engaging men in prevention has been shown to decrease future risk. A new sexual assault and conduct policy that supports environment of reporting is being created, and members of the university community will have additional opportunities to provide ongoing feedback about this important topic.

“We will also provide additional information to faculty and staff so that they understand the importance of and responsibilities associated with being mandatory reporters,” said Maureen Wilson, task force co-chair. “This aligns with our efforts to create and support an environment of reporting that provides a fair process and care for all involved parties.”

Mazey added, “Preventing sexual assault is a challenge facing colleges and universities across the country; combatting it will take a long-term, concerted approach. Moving forward, our priorities will continue to include making sure survivors are properly supported and ensuring that our processes are thorough, fair, equitable and respectful.”

Resources, including support, risk reduction and prevention information, policies and laws, and bystander intervention information, are now available on one comprehensive website: bgsu.edu/bgsu-cares. Resources and information will be added and updated throughout the coming academic year.