Panel Addresses Sexual Violence at the University of Oregon

EUGENE, Ore. ― A task force studying ways to prevent sexual violence at the University of Oregon has come up with a list of nearly two dozen recommendations, including the creation of a single office dedicated to addressing the problem.

The recommendations are intended to improve the university’s prevention and support policies for victims. The panel was formed in July, shortly after three basketball players were accused of raping a female student. A prosecutor said there was insufficient evidence to charge the players with a crime.

The task force, which presented its finding to the University Senate on Wednesday, found that resources for victims of sexual violence are too scattered and should be centralized under a single office.

Its other recommendations include:

· Suspending the university’s plans to expand the number of sorority and fraternity chapters at the school.

· Forming a sorority and fraternity sexual assault task force.

· Funding a campus survey to assess rates of victimization.

· Expanding opportunities for women’s self-defense training on campus.

· Developing proposals to mandate that all students take classes on gender, sexuality and social inequity.

· Empowering the University Senate Intercollegiate Athletics Committee to address sexual violence issues within the athletic department.

The changes would cost the university at least $500,000, The Register-Guard reported.

The initial recommendations from the 19-member task force represent a blueprint for long-term efforts to address sexual violence on campus, the group wrote in its report, called “Twenty Students Per Week.” That number is an estimate of how many female University of Oregon students, on average during college, experience some kind of unwanted sexual contact for the first time, based on preliminary results from a UO psychology professor and graduate students’ survey.

“This is just the beginning,” said task force co-chairwoman, Carol Stabile, a journalism and women’s and gender studies professor. “We know how enormous the problem is, but we want to be in the position to make meaningful changes.”

The university’s interim president, Scott Coltrane, spoke briefly about the recommendations Wednesday. He said he appreciates the group’s efforts and that his office will consider the changes.

“It’s a very important problem,” Coltrane said. “We need to get ahead of it.”