U.Va. Releases New Interim Sexual Misconduct Policy

The University of Virginia has released a new interim policy on sexual misconduct and "gender-based'' violence prompted by an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education.

The measure, which is effective immediately, was implemented after about a year of work by administrators and students. It includes detailed descriptions of reporting procedures and sexual assault and misconduct education at the university. The policy also details procedures for investigating complaints against employees and third parties.

Spokesman Anthony de Bruyn told The Daily Progress that a draft of the policy that was posted in November received feedback from about 600 students.

The Charlottesville school is one of about 150 institutions nationwide being investigated for potential violations of a federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in education due to their handling of investigations into sexual assault, harassment, stalking and intimate partner violence.

"The interim policy supports the university's ongoing efforts to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment on Grounds,'' de Bruyn said.

According to the new policy, complaints will be examined by the university's full-time investigator or "an external investigator with relevant experience.'' Students and employees also will be allowed to have an adviser at disciplinary hearings. The university also is offering an expanded guide for students seeking medical treatment, counseling or "no-contact'' orders.

The policy still needs to be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Education, the board of visitors and a group on climate and culture appointed by university President Teresa A. Sullivan. The university expects the policy will undergo additional revisions in the coming months following input and recommendations from internal and external reviews, de Bruyn said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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