President Barron Accepts All 18 Sexual Assault Task Force Recommendations
Penn State President Eric Barron has accepted all 18 of the recommendations that the university’s Task Force on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment announced at the end of January.
Barron praised the comprehensiveness of the report, calling it “very thoughtful.” Barron said what makes the report stand out is that it covers all different areas of the issue of sexual assault, from victim prevention, investigation and prevention, and that is what will make the university stand out when it comes to sexual assault issues.
“I’m not sure I’ve seen any university have as comprehensive of a plan as we’re proposing here,” he said. Barron said he expects that other universities will turn to Penn State as a model for sexual assault prevention.
“I think that we’ll have a lot of other institutions that will say, ‘Wait, let’s see what Penn State has there, maybe they’ll give us their plan,’” Barron said.
Barron said he plans to create an office for Title IX issues by the beginning of the Fall semester, and expects progress to have been made on each recommendation within a year. After this office is up and running, it will work on implementing 11 of the 18 recommendations.
“All these things I think this office can set up and they can do it in a relatively timely fashion,” he said.
By accepting these recommendations, Penn State will start to transfer its sexual assault investigation process from a hearing model to an investigative model. Barron explained that the hearing model is set up for offenses like plagiarism, but isn’t the best for dealing with sexual assault.
“I think it will be a tremendous improvement,” he said.
The university will also be reporting the general outcomes of these investigations. Right now, the results of sexual assault cases that go through the university are not reported, but after these recommendations are put into place, a report will be released regularly about these investigations and the punishments for students involved in these cases, Barron said.
Penn State will also be changing the way it educates its students about sexual assault.
The initial recommendations suggested a year-long course for first-year students about personal well-being, but Barron said the university will likely be taking a different approach. He has compiled a group of people to figure out the best way to implement a new educational model, Barron said.
Overall, Barron said he hasn’t heard any negative feedback about the recommendations, though he has heard feedback on how to improve and better implement some of them.
Funding for implementing these changes will come from a formal budget that will come from student affairs, Barron said. The university does not yet have an estimate of how much it will cost to implement the recommendations.
After implementing the recommendations from the report, Barron said Penn State will reach its goal in becoming a national leader in sexual assault issues.
“I think partly because it is comprehensive, and partly because it directly goes after the issues that are directly being described as the problem,” he said.
Barron announced the task force in July. The group, which consisted of students, faculty and staff, had its first meeting on August 7, and worked through the fall semester to come up with the 18 recommendations for the university. The task force’s report, along with its recommendations, is below.