RI schools to review sexual assault policies, procedures

An alleged rape at Brown University and a new report released by a White House task force prompt local universities to assess their sexual assault policies.

Brown student Lena Sclove went public last week with her anger about the way the school handled her allegation she was sexually assaulted by a fellow student.

The accused student, who was not criminally charged, was given a one-year suspension for sexual misconduct even though a panel that heard the case recommended two years.

"I told the administration I did not feel safe with her decision and they told me I had been given what they could give me," Sclove said.

A Brown student said it has brought an important issue to the forefront.

"There is this activist sentiment on campus and a lot of conversations have been going on and I think that's a wonderful thing," the student said.

In response to the case, university president Christina Paxson issued a statement saying sexual assault at Brown is not tolerated.

The school said it is accelerating its review of policies and procedures to keep the campus safe.

The school also said it will be conducting surveys in the fall to assess campus climate, one of the recommendations given in a report released Tuesday by a White House task force on sexual assault.

An estimated 1 in 5 female students is assaulted. The taskforce was appointed by President Barack Obama in January.

University of Rhode Island Dean of Students Mary Jo Gonzalez said the school hasn't reviewed its policies and procedures in several years but will do now in the fall.

"To help us understand issues our students are facing particularly if they're not reporting if our structures need tightening up how we can provide additional support for students about what they may need to know about reporting sexual assault to campus authorities," she said.

Gonzalez said it was already doing about two-thirds of what was released in the task force report.

A representative for Brown did not have a specific comment about the task force, and referred to the president's previous statement on campus safety.

The student who was suspended from Brown has said he will not return to campus in the fall.