In response to an investigation into the way the school handles reports of sexual misconduct by faculty members, the University of Connecticut is adopting a brand new policy governing professor/student relationships. As recommended within the report, one of the greatest goals from the new policy is to act on troubling reports quickly following the investigation demonstrated that at least some employees were aware that music professor Robert Miller have been abusing students as soon as 2006.
The report also found accounts of Miller being inside freshman dorms, abusing drugs and having sex with one of the residents. According to Kathleen Megan of The Hartford Courant, there have also been accusations of Miller having inappropriate contact with minor children which were never reported towards the university administration.
The university has a new policy, enacted in early 2012 right after the?Penn State?child abuse?scandal?erupted, that broadens the amount of employees who must report sexual assaults. University officials say they have already seen an increase in the number of reports received previously year.
“It’s expected and required in our employees they come forward with any information immediately,” said Stephanie Reitz, the university’s spokeswoman. “The security of all members of the university community is extremely important to all of us.”
In addition, the university is drafting an insurance policy that will prohibit relationships between faculty or university staff and undergraduates.
Reitz asserted the number of reports of sexual assault and harassment went up substantially because the tougher reporting policy went into effect in January 2012. However, as Reitz pointed out, that doesn’t mean that the university campus is inherently less safe;?it simply means that more and more people feel safer coming forward.
“But an increase in reporting allows the appropriate university administrators and offices to respond swiftly to situations that are brought to their attention,” Reitz said within an email. “Having that data also enables more informed focus on effective prevention measures.”
In addition, she said, university officials happen to be working for about a year on a policy which will prohibit relationships between faculty or university staff and undergraduates, in addition to banning relationships between graduated pupils and the faculty with authority over them. It would also bar supervisors from having relationships with their subordinates.
At the moment, sexual relationships between faculty and students are allowed when it is consensual and doesn’t involve either party being under the influence. In addition to a total prohibition on such relationships, the new policy will even make background checks on all new employees mandatory starting this fall.