Students' responses to a sexual assault case filed at the University of New Hampshire in October 2021 drove the campus to create a new sexual assault prevention plan. University representatives released a 22-point plan designed to further integrate students into university sexual misconduct policies. The changes to university policy will start impacting students' day-to-day lives in Summer 2022.
Sexual Assault Prevention on UNH's Campus
On Friday, October 15, 2021, a female resident of Stoke Hall at the University of New Hampshire reported an incident of sexual assault. The assailant was noted to be well-known as someone who harassed female residents.
While UNH and its staff responded to the case, students' reactions to the release were fraught. Students staged protests that eventually drove the university's staff to reconsider its approach to sexual harassment and assault.
The university hopes to implement these new strategies in Summer 2022. Additional resources are set to come available at the start of the fall semester.
Fast-Tracking Reporting Strategies
UNH intends to release campus climate surveys in Fall 2022. These surveys gauge students' relationships with incidents of sexual harassment or assault. They will also recommend techniques designed to limit dangerous encounters.
These services benefit potential victims and accused students alike. Victims will have the chance to feel safer on campus. In turn, students who might be accused of harassment can prevent the misunderstandings that might bring them up on false charges.
Improving Campus Training
The university's faculty and staff will also have access to updated sexual harassment training. This training is designed to give staff access to the resources they need to understand sexual harassment. Staff will also have the tools needed to better recognize instances of harassment - as well as instances of retaliation.
UNH will also more widely circulate its Code of Conduct. In sharing a more digestible version of the code, the university hopes to improve students' understanding of the content. In turn, UNH strives to limit on-campus misunderstandings of students' behaviors.
Offering Improved Investigative Services
Several UNH students noted that it was difficult for them to track information about the university's sexual harassment policies. Similarly, students want to report alleged assault with greater ease.
In response to these needs, UNH is rebuilding its Affirmative Action and Equity Office’s website. The new website makes it easier for students to seek out legal support in a sexual harassment case, regardless of which side of the case they are on.
UNH also intends to release a sexual harassment dashboard. This dashboard will be regularly updated with data about the university's reported harassment cases.
Increased Attention to Sexual Harassment Training Protects All Students
The more attention universities pay to sexual harassment cases, the easier it is for accused students to challenge misconduct allegations. Students facing accusations of sexual harassment can cite university policy and reference affiliated services to challenge another student's allegations.
That said, no student has to fight back against sexual misconduct charges alone. Instead, students and parents alike can turn to Joseph D. Lento. To learn more about the best defenses against sexual harassment claims, families can call 888-535-3686 or contact Lento Law Firm through their online form.