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Experts discuss changes to sexual misconduct policy

By Eliff Koc, Contributing Writer

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In response to the national conversation about sexual assault on college campuses, the University Committee on Student Life met on Nov. 6 with policymakers and students to discuss the recent changes to NYU’s sexual misconduct policies. The forum was held the Kimmel Center for University Life.

Zoe Ragouzeos, the assistant vice president of student mental health, Karen Ortman, the Department of Public Safety’s special victim liaison, and Mary Signor, the university’s Title IX coordinator outlined the changes to the policy.

“We have revised definitions for things like consent,” Ragouzeos said. “Whereas many universities are defining consent as it relates to what it isn’t, now we have an affirmative definition of consent in our policy and we talk about what it actually is. We’ve defined it much more clearly.”

Other changes include new and more easily accessible information online, new training within the Mental Health Center and clear protective measures for victims of assault. The speakers added that the changes were made to keep in line with national reform mandates and that NYU policymakers have spent the past three months intensively reviewing and revising existing policies.

The presenters emphasized an ongoing support base for victims throughout the process in whatever capacity they wished to respond to the assault. Ortman is one person that is available to victims to help them navigate the steps of reporting assault and is available to sit with students to discuss legal action.

The panel concluded in a Q&A session with the audience in which students were allowed to weigh in on the new policies.

Sarth Desai, the president of the Poly Graduate Student Council was impressed with the turnout.

“This session we had today was very powerful, because for the students who attended, it lifted a barrier between the decision makers and the people who are actually affected by the policy,” Desai said.

The university has placed focus on the issue through outreach from hashtagNYU, the digital media community. HastagNYU senior director Erin Callihan said definitions are broader, access to resources has been amplified and the school has developed a different strategy to address sexual assault.

“We are committed to inspiring this important conversation on campus — and in order to do that well, it needs to be guided by our students,” Callihan said. “The language surrounding sexual respect must be peer-to-peer or it won’t be effective.”
Email Elif Koc at [email protected]

Email Eliff Koc at [email protected]

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