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CU Boulder leaders address student, community concerns directly during sexual misconduct town hall

CU Boulder holds sexual misconduct town hall
Posted at 10:43 PM, Sep 26, 2022

BOULDER, Colo. — During a town hall Monday night, University of Colorado Boulder leadership responded to questions from its student body and outlying community about the handling of sexual misconduct.

The town hall comes one month after the university created a sexual misconduct task force to seek out best practices and interventions.

With around thirty people gathered in-person, and at least a dozen streaming listeners, members of CU Boulder's Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance (OIEC) and Office of Victim Assistance (OVA) explained their strategy to better address sexual assaults among students.

The newly-launched task force and 2021 survey results, released this September, will serve in part as road maps.

"My question is, what is it going to take for this university to treat sexual assault like the epidemic it is?" said one self-identified parent.

That same parent also noted the absence of the university's president at the town hall.

"The president should be here," she said across the room.

"As a fifth-year [student], I've been here a while. It hasn't been a thing that's really been talked about in those first couple of years," said Sarah Napier

Napier told Denver7 she's grateful for the university's latest efforts, but would like a more punitive response towards fraternities who face sexual assault allegations.

Last fall, more than 100 CU Boulder students protested in front of a Boulder fraternity house where two women reported being sexually assaulted.

When compared to 2015 survey results, the 2021 survey found lower rates of sexual misconduct. However, the severity of the assaults increased.

"Privacy laws often prohibit us from talking about the specifics of any given case. Folks do need to know that when there is a policy violation, the university holds folks accountable," said Llen Pomeroy, OIEC associate vice chancellor and CU Boulder's Title IX coordinator, of the allegations against fraternities.

The 2021 survey showed the majority of sexual assaults happened to undergraduate women in their first year, and the assaults most commonly occurred at a Greek chapter house.

"As a Greek [sorority] woman, I was briefed pretty early on where the safe places to go were and what the safe places not to go were, and kind of the reputation of some of those communities," Napier said.

All fraternity and sorority housing is located off-campus, and only some are formally affiliated with the university. The location of a reported sexual assault determines whether it's investigated by CU Boulder police or Boulder police.

Pomeroy is helping lead the university's task force and said now that the task force has data, more direct action can be taken.

"Potentially, there may be funding requests, opportunities to use existing resources and funding throughout campus that are scattered in various places to better collaborate and take important steps and actions," she said.

Despite the work that remains, Jessica Ladd-Webert, director of the OVA, said one finding indicates some of CU Boulder's messaging on sexual violence prevention has been effective. Survey results also showed more students reported sexual assault and confided in a trusted source.

"More people were reaching out and, I hope, getting that passionate and supportive response," Ladd-Webert said.