IUPUI students react to US Dept of Education sexual assault policy change

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — IUPUI students are speaking out after U.S.Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced plans Friday to rescind an Obama-era sexual assault policy.

Rescinding the policy would change the way universities, colleges and K-12 schools handle sexual assault cases. The new policy is meant to offer more protections to those accused in sexual assault cases. It’s something students are torn on.

The issue of sexual assault isn’t foreign to students at IUPUI. Back in April, three cases were reported in less than one week. Police arrested one man in connection to two of the incidents.

“I feel like being aggressive when investigating is pretty important, because that’s something that shouldn’t be messed with,” said Caleb White, who is student at IUPUI.

But some feel the former policy is too aggressive. DeVos is concerned those who are accused aren’t getting fair due process.

“People accused of sexual assault, to an extent, they deserve some protection. Definitely they shouldn’t have their name thrown around,” said Trevor Boyne.

“I think there’re a lot of cases that don’t get reported because women don’t think they … and men are sexually assaulted as well, but the person, the victim doesn’t think they have a strong enough podium to speak out against it,” said Caitlyn Anderson.

Among several other things, the new policy offers the same rights to both the alleged victim and the accused during the investigative process. And instead of adjudicating each case, schools would have the right to settle disputes informally, with cooperation from each party. One thing that remains the same is that schools are required to report all incidents.

Click here to read a Q&A from the U.S. Department of Education.

IU spokesperson Ryan Piurek released the following statement:

Indiana University remains unwavering in its commitment to ending sexual violence on our campuses. As originally conveyed through the university’s Student Welfare Statement, the university will continue to prioritize preventing sexual violence through greater education, public awareness and training initiatives for all members of the IU community.

We also continue to solicit input and proactively partner with faculty, students, staff, community members, university-based experts and practitioners and nationwide experts to strengthen these efforts. We remain in an ongoing effort to review and adopt best practices, and to build a campus culture that rejects sexual misconduct and allows our students to pursue their education with maximum confidence in their personal safety.

The September 22 announcement by the U.S. Department of Education makes it clear that it remains the responsibility of the university to respond to any matters of possible sexual misconduct. Indiana University will continue to offer and provide support and resources to those who need it, objectively and thoroughly investigate reports, and conduct any related proceedings in a manner that ensures due process as well as fairness and dignity to all participants.

We will also continue to strongly encourage those individuals who believe they are victims of sexual misconduct — as well as those aware of sexual misconduct — to seek help and report incidents promptly.

All of the university’s prevention and response efforts will continue with the same level of focus, vigor and intensity.

The university remains in progress in continuing to update its sexual misconduct policy and procedures whenever necessary. The current university policy conforms to the guidance issued on September 22. However, the work to review the policy and procedures cooperatively with staff, faculty, students and experts will continue. We also look forward to participating in the formal rulemaking process to ensure protection and fairness to all parties.”