Home Campus President Nellis discusses sexual assault with Ohio U Faculty Senate

President Nellis discusses sexual assault with Ohio U Faculty Senate

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President Nellis addresses Faculty Senate. Photo by Connor Perrett.

Changes are coming to Ohio U in order to combat sexual misconduct, following Faculty Senate’s monthly meeting.

Ohio University President Duane Nellis addressed Faculty Senate at its Monday night meeting to discuss sexual assault on campus.

In the first weeks of fall semester, there have been 12 sexual assaults reported on campus and in Athens.

“It just sickens me the number of cases we’ve had on campus,” Nellis said. “This is a cultural change, not just on our campus but on a national level.”

Jenny Hall-Jones, dean of Student Affairs, described the first six weeks of the academic year as the “red zone.” During this time period, university’s see the sharpest spike in sexual assault.

“What we do is start talking about this early,” Hall-Jones said. “We do all of our programming on the first six weeks of the semester.”

This year, an educational booster-course, similar to HAVEN, was implemented for rising juniors. This course is also provided for incoming freshman and covers prevention, reporting, and care of survivors.

Blue-light phone stations, which are emergency telephones, are available around campus at anytime, but they’ve been proven ineffective, Hall-Jones said.

“People feel unsafe right now,” Hall-Jones said. “Nobody uses blue-light phones. It might make people feel safe, but no one uses them.”

Some actions taken by the university to protect students including training for employees at local bars, open forums, and a “Safe Walk Home” group message with to ensure female students get home safe. Also, more vehicles have been added to shuttle services. There are also plans to implement the use of security cameras at the entrances of residence halls.

During the last academic year, Faculty Senate formed multiple professional ethics committees among Ohio U’s main and branch campuses. One person from each committee will be selected to form a group concerning professional sexual misconduct.  

This comes after two professors resigned following allegations of sexual misconduct within the past school year and over the summer.

“On our campus, we are trying to respond and it’s at every level,” Nellis said.

Senator Sandra Doty, a representative of the Lancaster Regional Campus, raised concerns about sexual misconduct education for regional campus students.

Hall-Jones said that the residential nature of the Athens campus changes how they view sexual assault compared to regional campuses.

Faculty across the campuses plan to confront the disparity this year.

Editor’s Note: The number of sexual assaults has been corrected from a previous version of this report. 

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