Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims, who chaired the task force, noted its progress during his report today (Jan. 15) to the Penn State Board of Trustees Academic Affairs and Student Life committee. The work of the task force, which included subject experts among faculty and staff, as well as students from multiple campuses, has resulted in at least 18 University-wide recommendations addressing the issues of sexual assault and sexual harassment for both students and employees at Penn State.
“I have been deeply impressed by the expertise, thoroughness and commitment among the task force members,” Sims said. “Within a relatively short time, they have compiled an extensive history of the University’s many initiatives on this front, and identified possible improvements that will ensure that Penn State is among the schools others turn to in search of the best programs, services and policies in response to these vexing issues. We hope our work will prove especially helpful to others across Pennsylvania, and we look forward to continuing Penn State’s leadership to this important conversation throughout the Commonwealth.”
Among the task force’s principal recommendations are the creation of a new Title IX coordinator position, with accompanying staff and related resources; the expectation that all University employees be trained to understand their reporting and other obligations in response to sexual misconduct; a University-wide climate survey on the issue; adoption of an investigative model rather than a traditional hearing model for resolving these cases; and the development of increased educational and bystander initiatives to prevent and respond to these troubling occurrences.
The president and other senior University leaders will review the report and engage various constituencies in discussions about its many recommendations. A more comprehensive conversation about the actions to be taken in response to this review will be provided to the full Board at its March meeting, and it is anticipated that the final report will be published online in the coming week.
“I am grateful to the members of the task force for their dedication and investment of time to this important work,” said Barron, who has been briefed on the task force’s efforts. “I am very encouraged by the scope and content of the recommendations of the task force and I will study them carefully before outlining my plans to take action. I am committed to seeing Penn State become a leader in addressing what has become one of today’s most significant areas of concern in American higher education.”