Assistant Dean of Students Kipp Cox has proposed a change to campus policy in an effort to address how sexual assault hearings are conducted at the University of Wisconsin.
In a meeting of the Associated Students Madison University Affairs Committee Tuesday night, Cox proposed an addition to a chapter of the UW System’s Student Nonacademic Misconduct Policy to address how UW deals with sexual assault.
The proposed change to the current policy aims to make the process of hearing a case less traumatic for the victims of sexual harassment while also maintaining the rights of accused students, Cox said.
Cox’s addition would provide more options on how to hold hearings, including allowing students to attend hearings through conference calls or Skype.
Additionally, Cox would like to remove character statements, or testimonies on the character of the accused, from hearings. He said these statements are not relevant in such cases.
“We can adjust our process to accommodate the accusing victim’s likeness to hearings of the committee,” Cox said. “It doesn’t compromise the rights of the accused.”
A surge in sexual assault hearings has occurred lately, Cox said, due to the increase in sexual assaults on campus and further highlighting the need for changes to the policy.
Cox wants to ensure that in the wake of these crimes, students, faculty and staff understand and agree with changes to the clause.
“Between Jan. 1 of 2013 and March 23 of last year we had two sexual assaults. We aren’t even to March 23rd this year and we have seven as well as two stalking cases,” Cox said. “We’re looking to get as many bodies on campus to say that we agree to this, so that when we present it to the Board of Regents the entire campus can be on board.”
Cox has been presenting the addition to various boards across campus to raise awareness for the need to change the rules.
The University Affairs Committee unanimously agreed with Cox and the need to change the policy.
“I think it’s really positive and that it’s going to help students that are dealing with these sensitive issues to access a fair reporting process,” Committee Chair Hannah Kinsella said.