Safety investments at University of Utah will include mandatory sex assault awareness training course

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SALT LAKE CITY -- University of Utah President David Pershing has approved a budget for improving campus safety in regards to sexual assault awareness, and the U of U will invest more than $388,000 to create a safer place for students and faculty.

Of that budget, $13,000 will go toward developing a new website that will launch for the fall semester. The website will be interactive and include sexual assault reporting and prevention resources. Students and faculty can even report incidents through the website.

All students will be also mandated to take a sexual assault awareness training course before they can even enroll in classes. New faculty will also have to take the course.

Students will also be required to take the course every two years as long as they are attending the U of U.

The president created a task force to examine the safety of the campus in regard to sexual violence. The task force found there was room for improvement regarding resources, education, access, and physical equipment updates, like lighting and security surveillance.

The team included associate general counsel Michelle Ballantyne.

“Although we had a lot going on on campus, we didn't have a really good centralized website where people could go and understand what training was available,” Ballantyne said.

In fact, a University of Utah Campus Climate Survey in 2016 showed half of the students did not know how to file a sexual assault complaint if they needed to do so. The report stated:

  • 52 percent of students do not know where to make a formal sexual assault complaint
  • 61 percent do not know what happens once a report is made
  • 52 percent do not know where to get help on campus

The report also included some of the task force's recommendations and observations:

  • Hiring a new case manager
  • Office is understaffed compared to other PAC-12 institutions
  • Hiring a victim advocate
  • 182 percent increase in new clients last year.
  • Increasing the women’s resource center staff counselor to full-time
  • Must accommodate the needs of new clients

The team found that University police are working with a consultant on updating the security camera systems on campus. That project is set to be 90 percent complete by January 2018.

The task force recommended new lighting in parts of campus. It also included a cell phone app be designed to allow students to report when a light is out or not working on campus.

To see the full report to the president from the task force, click here.