Redefining sexual assault at UVM

UVM has changed its sex policy. The sexual misconduct and assault policies, that is. Revisions to the University’s sexual misconduct and assault policies have been approved, according to an email sent by President Daniel Mark Fogel on March 28. Sexual misconduct and assault have long-lasting and detrimental effects on individuals, our entire community and our mission to prepare UVM students to lead productive, responsible and creative lives, the Revised Sexual Misconduct and Assault Policies states. University policy prohibits any form of sexual violence, President Fogel said in an email to the campus community. President Fogel’s Chief of Staff Gary Derr believes that there wasn’t any specific event that brought up the need to revise the policy. “What I understand is that there were changes in other policies and standards like in the Center for Student Ethics and Standards and with police services and the Women’s Center, some operational procedures changed [and they] were not accurately reflected on how they were conveyed in the policies,” Derr said. The sexual misconduct and assault policy went in for review starting last spring and went through several meetings with representatives on campus before it reached the president’s desk in late March, Derr said. “We can kick a policy into a review if something happens, if we feel it’s warranted to make changes,” Derr said. “Some of those can be basic routine changes or it can be some sort of event on campus that occurs that would make us look at a policy a second time.” Annie Stevens, associate vice president for Student and Campus Life, said she served as the associate vice president in the dean of student’s office and as the chair of the president’s commission for social change during the review period of the policy. “Major changes to the policy were broadening the policy to be more inclusive of types of incidents and developing comprehensive protocols for multiple departments, who are typically involved in responding to victims and accused” Stevens said. Another change to the policy included clarifying the definitions for consent, incapacitation, sexual contact, misconduct and assault, she said. The new policy clearly explains the requirements for reporting an incident, as well as the support systems that are available for both the victim and the accused, Stevens said. She said that she believes these new changes to the policy will create greater clarity for students about prevention and response resources. Training for the new policy will begin in the fall for faculty, staff and students, she said.