UMBC pres­i­dent prom­ises out­reach

Hrabowski says, ‘We need to do much more’ re­gard­ing sex­ual as­sault on cam­pus

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Cody Boteler Bal­ti­more Sun re­porter Lil­lian Reed con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle. cboteler@balt­ twit­­boteler

The Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land, Bal­ti­more County needs to do “much more” per­sonal out­reach in the af­ter­math of a law­suit al­leg­ing the cover-up of sex­ual as­saults on cam­pus, uni­ver­sity Pres­i­dent Free­man Hrabowski III said Fri­day dur­ing an in­ter­view with The Bal­ti­more Sun’s ed­i­to­rial board.

“I’m say­ing, straight up, we need to do much more. I’m say­ing that, while we thought we were do­ing the right things with the le­gal side, we had not re­ally ad­dressed [the] hu­man side” of Ti­tle IX, Hrabowski said.

To that end, Hrabowski said on Fri­day that UMBC would start im­ple­ment­ing manda­tory train­ing for stu­dents, fac­ulty and staff on cam­pus. He said train­ing would be in-per­son and live, not only on­line, and would fo­cus on ar­eas such as trauma, preven­tion and what hap­pens dur­ing the re­port­ing process af­ter an in­ci­dent.

“That’s go­ing to mean hir­ing ad­di­tional peo­ple,” Hrabowski said. “This is the bot­tom line: The uni­ver­sity has com­mit­ted to putting in the re­sources. It’s go­ing to take more money.” He es­ti­mated the cost for hir­ing con­sul­tants and staff, and for con­duct­ing train­ing cam­pus-wide, would to­tal in the mil­lions of dol­lars.

Hrabowski’s in­ter­view this week came about a month af­ter the school was named in a law­suit for al­legedly cov­er­ing up in­stances of sex­ual as­sault. An an­nounce­ment from a uni­ver­sity lead­er­ship com­mit­tee and sev­eral stu­dent or­ga­ni­za­tions fol­lowed, say­ing the school was work­ing on sev­eral mea­sures to re­view all as­pects of sex­ual mis­con­duct preven­tion and train­ing, and aware­ness pro­grams.

The an­nounce­ment said the uni­ver­sity would de­velop a scope of work for an out­side ex­pert to be brought in to re­view train­ing and aware­ness pro­grams. Also on the agenda are up­grad­ing out­door light­ing, de­vel­op­ing an on­line tool to re­port light­ing or build­ing se­cu­rity is­sues, and print­ing new cam­pus iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards that in­clude emer­gency con­tact in­for­ma­tion.

A coali­tion of stu­dent ac­tivists de­manded ac­count­abil­ity from cam­pus of­fi­cials in Septem­ber, fol­low­ing news that two women had filed a class-ac­tion law­suit against the uni­ver­sity and Bal­ti­more County of­fi­cials.

The law­suit, filed in U.S. Dis­trict Court, was brought by two for­mer Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land, Bal­ti­more County stu­dents, who say they were raped in sep­a­rate in­ci­dents that they re­ported to uni­ver­sity and county po­lice. The two women al­lege in the suit that author­i­ties hu­mil­i­ated, in­tim­i­dated and de­ceived them as part of an in­ten­tional ef­fort to “cover up jus­ti­fi­able com­plaints of sex­ual as­sault.”

A group of stu­dents quickly launched protests against the uni­ver­sity and marched to Hrabowski’s of­fice, where he lis­tened to their de­mands and promised “some kind of ex­ter­nal re­view.”

One of the orig­i­nal de­mands brought by stu­dents was for Paul Dil­lon, UMBC’s chief of po­lice, to be re­moved from his job.

Dil­lon has de­nied stu­dents’ as­ser­tions and has sought to have claims about him in the law­suit dis­missed. Ear­lier this week he said he was work­ing to re­build the cam­pus com­mu­nity’s trust in him and in the cam­pus po­lice de­part­ment. “I’m slowly go­ing to start build­ing that face-to-face trust” by meet­ing with and lis­ten­ing to small groups of stu­dents to un­der­stand what they’d like to see from the po­lice, Dil­lon said.

Hrabowski said Fri­day he was no longer hear­ing from stu­dents around cam­pus that Dil­lon should be dis­missed.

Collin Sullivan, pres­i­dent of the uni­ver­sity’s Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion, said Fri­day the stu­dent body is “ex­pect­ing change from cam­pus po­lice” but knows it won’t come overnight. “That is re­build­ing re­la­tion­ships, re­build­ing com­mu­nity, see­ing them more on cam­pus in a vis­i­ble way that doesn’t feel threat­en­ing or that makes peo­ple feel un­safe,” he said.

Bob­bie Hoye, the school’s Ti­tle IX co­or­di­na­tor, said it would be “naive” to believe that ev­ery stu­dent on cam­pus trusts or even knows what’s in­volved in re­port­ing sex­ual vi­o­lence or sex­ual mis­con­duct. “There’s a cam­pus sense that there are things that can be bet­ter as it re­lates to the process. I think part of that starts with the un­der­stand­ing of the process,” she said.

Be­cause of na­tional at­ten­tion di­rected to­ward UMBC when news of the law­suit broke, Hrabowski said he’s been talk­ing with other uni­ver­sity lead­ers and would con­tinue talk­ing na­tion­ally about how to address sex­ual as­sault preven­tion and af­ter­math train­ing.

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