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Maryland Colleges To Revise Sexual Assault Policies

spike55151 via flickr

Maryland college campuses must revamp their sexual assault policies by the end of this year.

Yesterday, the Board of Regents’ Committee on Education Policy and Student Life met at UMBC’sAlbin O. Kuhn Library to discuss a new sexual misconduct policy for Maryland colleges.

Proposed by the Office of the Attorney General, the draft policy merges the previously separate policies for sexual assault and sexual harassment. This umbrella policy would apply uniformly to students, faculty and staff, and would place more emphasis on consent. It defines sexual crimes and delineates the obligations of campuses as required by federal law. Schools will revise their current guidelines to comply with the state, taking such actions as creating memoranda of understanding with local law enforcement.

This action comes on the heels of the White House’s release of sexual assault recommendations for colleges. WYPR covered one of those recommendations, campus climate surveys, here.

Joann Boughman is Senior Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs for Maryland’s university system. “This is really a set of hugely important issues,” she says. “It is time for us to address these [issues] head on.” Boughman believes that the drafted proposal reflects the desire for a culture change on college campuses.

Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Rivera agrees. “This policy might be cold paper when you hold it up,” she says, “but when you read it, there are mechanisms in here to bring it into the light, and to make sure that the universities have what they need  to change the culture.”

The Board of Regents will vote June 27th on whether to approve the policy. Individual campuses must comply by December 31st.