WMU trustees approve sex assault policy

The campus of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. (file photo courtesy WMU)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) – Western Michigan University Board of Trustees has approved a new policy on Thursday designed to make it easier for students and staff to report cases of sexual assault.

The Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Violence, Intimate Partner Violence and Stalking Policy and Procedures were formally in place in January. After a five-month comment period from students, faculty and staff, the policy was refined and presented to the board for final approval.

Under the new policy, all reports of sexual misconduct and investigations into those reports will be handled by the Office of Institutional Equity, which will be headed by the university’s Title IX coordinator. Previously, there was a different process for complaints involving students and complaints involving staff.

Investigations into violations of WMU policy will be separate from investigations conducted by police.

The policy and procedures also carefully define the terms consent, force, coercion and incapacitation as in regards to sexual assault.

The new policy also focuses on the issue of confidentiality and employee responsibility to report wrongdoing. Under the new procedures, there will be a small group of employees who can offer confidentiality, with the vast majority of employees falling into the “responsible employee” category of people who must report wrongdoing, according to a WMU news release.

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