Sen. Boucher Statement on UCONN Sexual Assault Informational Hearing

November 14, 2013

Hartford, CT –State Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) ranking member of the General Assembly Higher Education Committee released the following statement today re: Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Procedures at Connecticut Colleges and Universities.

“It is regrettable that University of Connecticut President, Susan Herbst is not appearing before the committee.

“As important as it is that we determine what happened and why – it is equally important we begin today to make sure that new procedures, policies and programs are in place to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.

“And that must start with assurances from the leaders of our universities that they are listening to students, there is training of employees and students on violent assault policies and that there is a clear response and consequences.

“Having said this, policies are not enough. Response to an act of violence is what really matters. Sending a strong message from the top could help to deter future acts of violence.

“It is clear from UCONN’s Sexual Assault Response Policy, which is designed to assist university employees in responding to reports of sexual assault, does not require employees to notify police.

“It directs employees to forward reports to either the Title IX coordinator, the Office of Community Standards (student discipline) or the Office of Diversity and Equity (employee compliance).

“The only reference suggesting a report be filed with police is a footnote that says “Nothing in this policy prevents an employee from also reporting this information to UConn Police.”

“It is a concern that the university would make calling police a “possible” action in a footnote.

“It is clear UCONN’s Sexual Assault Response Policy has to be updated. As it stands now the school does not appear to be in compliance with the law passed by this legislature that states Connecticut Colleges and Universities must inform victims of the following:

  • The importance of reporting sexual assaults to law enforcement in order to preserve evidence.
  • Their right to obtain assistance from the University in filing a complaint with law enforcement.
  • Their right to obtain a protective or temporary restraining order and to get assistance in enforcing such an order.

“I call on all our college Presidents including UCONN’s to make the necessary changes to their Sexual Assault Policies and give the legislature assurances that new procedures and programs are in place to protect all students. This issue is far too serious to ignore.

“Some recommendations might be to do the following: Clearer Statement of Zero Tolerance, Stronger Statement Encouraging Victims to Immediately Report Acts of Sexual Violence to Police, Lower the Threshold for Mandatory Reporting by Employees and Impose Sanctions for Failing to Report, Establish a Sexual Assault Response Team.

“It is important to note that in response to the hearing two notices were received today that UCONN’s police chief will form a sexual assult investigation unit made up of officers who receive special training and that the President of UCONN issued a statement of concern for the students, both steps in the right direction.”