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Colleges Meet in Nashville in Effort to Fight Sex Assaults

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A two-day summit focused on fighting sexual assaults at college campuses is drawing about 400 officials from 76 schools across Tennessee.

Media report the meeting begins Tuesday at Tennessee State University and will feature national experts who will offer training on issues like defining consent, prevention and complying with changing federal laws.

“We believe students have every right to expect to be safe on our campus,” University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro said last week in a conference call with reporters. “We want to do everything we can to be there and support our students when they need us most.”

The idea for the Tennessee Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Summit came about after revisions to federal standards and laws on how schools should respond to and report assaults.

It is being held in the midst of a high-profile rape trial against two former Vanderbilt football players.

The summit is scheduled to last through Wednesday.

“Training on this subject is not just the required thing to do, it’s the moral thing to do,” said John Morgan, chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents. “What we believe is that this summit will help our campuses meet these objectives outlined by our national leaders.”

College leaders say collaboration between schools on this scale is a first in the state and shows the urgency of the matter.

“Preventing and responding to sexual assaults and relationship violence is a priority in Washington and across the country and, now more than ever, in Tennessee,” DiPietro said. “We’ve not only heightened our focus in Tennessee, we also agree that we can be more effective at combating sexual violence by working together.”

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