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Governor McAuliffe holds summit addressing sexual violence on college campuses

Virginia university leaders, officials, students address consent, awareness, policies

<p>Governor McAuliffe convened a summit to address the issue of sexual violence on college campuses last week. </p>

Governor McAuliffe convened a summit to address the issue of sexual violence on college campuses last week. 

At a summit to address sexual violence on college campuses in Virginia held Thursday and Friday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he intends to lead an effort to change the sexual assault culture at Virginia schools.

The summit united several different parties concerned with combating sexual assault, including leaders of Virginia universities, students, police and elected officials. The group addressed topics such as Title IX, the definition of consent, student awareness and education, and the best practices for policies and procedures, according to the summit agenda.

Emily Renda, a program coordinator in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and the prevention chair of the task force, said building a coalition of support is a key part of addressing the problem.

“[It is] great to have general counsel from all different universities,” Renda said. “[The summit] created a long checklist of things that should be in people’s policies.”

Rachel Thomas, McAuliffe’s traveling press secretary, said the purpose of the summit was to ensure all parties involved — including police, students and college administrators — are on the same page about “preventions, response and raising awareness about this important issue.”

“[The Summit] brought together college administrators, students, victims and advocates,” Thomas said. “[It was] the best way to bring all parties together to discuss the best practices.”

McAuliffe named Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring head of a task force, which will develop a plan to address sexual violence on college campuses. The plan will be presented to the governor’s office by June 2015. The recommendations will be based on information gained at the summit, focusing on developing ways to prevent and properly address sexual assaults on campuses.

Dean of Students Allen Groves, who sits on the response committee, said his group discussed national regulations for addressing sexual assault.

“We discussed current federal legal requirements and then discussed the issues that are in the forefront of this issue on college campuses,” Groves said. “These include the definition of consent, mandatory reporting by faculty, the various models for investigation, hearing and sanctioning, and climate surveys.”

Subcommittees meet monthly, and the task force as a whole meets quarterly, Groves said.

“The response committee had its first monthly meeting in Richmond last week,” Groves said. “The full task force will come together in Richmond for its next quarterly meeting in January.”

McAuliffe has also spoken with the parents of second-year College student Hannah Graham, who are sharing their opinion on solving the issue of sexual assault on college campuses. McAuliffe has said he will not disclose the details of their discussion.


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