by AMBER EBANKS
On November 13th, Attorney General Doug Gansler spoke on his new policy, “Doing More: Reducing Sexual Misconduct at Maryland’s Colleges and Universities” at Stamp Student Union. Gansler’s report focuses on what he considers the, “best practices that will help prevent campus sexual violence, address the serious needs of victims and raise public awareness.”
“1 in 5 women report sexual assault on college campuses, and 1 in 12 men do,” said Gansler. “Most of the cases, about 89% involve alcohol, and many of them, almost every one of them can be prevented.”
Throughout the speech, Gansler referenced the wave of many colleges and universities reviewing their sexual assault policies with a focus on how they define and respond to sexual violence. The main ideas from the policy he spoke on were: increased bystander intervention initiatives, and how university employees and students needed better education and training on sexual assault, including trauma and language of re-victimization.
“The Federal Government and the White House has actually started to get very involved in this issue and there’s been a wave across the country involving what are university systems doing about this issue on many different fronts,” said Gansler. “We’re here today to say that the state of Maryland is doing a great deal on the issue as well.”
Gansler also discussed how important Title 9 was, and how important it is for colleges and universities to report the sexual assaults on their campus. In addition, Gansler said that combatting sexual assault will have to be a social change like the designated driver program..
“…When I was younger people my age people use to drive when they were drunk in high school when the drinking age was 18 and they thought that was okay and that they we’re going to be safe. Well a lot of children, and a lot of kids died …. Today, you very rarely hear about a high school student getting into a drunk driving accident and dying … and that’s because of the designated driver program,” said Gansler. “Well the same culture needs to happen on college campuses involving bystanders seeing something that just doesn’t look right that probably isn’t right and getting themselves involved … Encouraging people to talk to their friends honestly and openly about sexual assault.”
During the conference, State Delegate Ariana Kelly also spoke on the importance of college and university students understand the resources they have at their disposal on campus and in the surrounding area.
Kelly, who is a survivor of sexual assault, said, “We spend a lot of time saying, ‘Oh that girl is drunk, make sure she gets home safe.’ Well how about, ‘That guy is acting inappropriately and taking advantage of a drunk girl.'”
In October, the University of Maryland adopted a new sexual misconduct policy due to many debates on how to define sexual assault on campus, and what role attorneys should play. As a result, there have been major changes to the policy, including special procedures for investigations and discipline. The old policy now defines “Sexual Assault I” as nonconsensual sexual intercourse and “Sexual Assault II” as nonconsensual sexual contact, which would be “any intentional touching of the intimate parts of another person, causing another to touch one’s intimate parts, or disrobing or exposure of another without consent.” Since President Loh rejected a provision of a University System of Maryland policy that specifies two kinds of sexual assault, the new policy defines sexual assault as “any act of sexual penetration with another individual without consent.”
Many students at the University of Maryland disagree with the new policy because it no longer considers “any unwanted intentional touching of the intimate body parts of another person” as assault. According to President Loh’s interview with the Washington Post, by categorizing nonconsensual touching as assault you are, “demeaning the word assault.” The new sexual assault policy has already affected students at the University of Maryland who were told on November 14th that they must completed Mandated Online Sexual Misconduct Training by December 10th.
Read the Attorney General’s Report on Reducing Sexual Assault here.