University of Utah requires mandatory sexual assault awareness training

University of Utah Trustee Cristina Ortega (center) presents task force recommendations to trustees. (University of Utah)

University of Utah will require students, new faculty and staff to participate in sexual assault training, starting no later than Fall 2018.

The university’s president David W. Pershing approved nearly $400,000 of funding to be used for a variety of safety initiatives, at the recommendation of a campus safety-oriented task force.

The task force was created in January 2017 and was designed to help promote campus safety. One of the things that motivated Pershing’s idea for a task force was an October 2016 campus rape allegation.

Recommendations from the task force included a “call for creation of a comprehensive campus safety website, addition of new support personnel and mandatory sexual assault awareness training for all students and newly hired faculty and staff,” according to a University of Utah press release.

Pershing also appointed Barb Snyder, vice president of Student Affairs, and Michele Ballantyne, associate general counsel, as task force co-chairs.

Synder said the goal of the recommendations is to make the University of Utah campus, which she said is already safe, even safer for the campus community.

“Anything that we can do on the prevention and education side is better than reacting after the fact, when something bad has occurred,” Snyder said.

Pershing accepted the task force’s recommendations on June 15 and thanked them for their hard work in a statement.

“Over a few short months, they accomplished much,” Pershing said in a statement. “Is our work complete? No, there is more to do to strengthen safety on our campus and support the needs of those who have experienced trauma.”

He emphasized that “there is no place for violence, sexual harassment or sexual assault at the University of Utah.” Pershing said supporting those who have experienced trauma is a high priority for himself and his administration.

“Each of us can contribute to making our campus a model of inclusion, respect and safety for everyone who visits, works and studies here,” Pershing said. “I ask you to join us in working toward that goal.”

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