Changes to be made in sex assault policies on campuses

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Sparked by that big lawsuit against UConn, state lawmakers have begun a re-write of the laws governing how the state’s public university system responds to complaints of sexual assault on campus.

Tuesday lawmakers heard from educators and some high school students telling about their worries for going to college.

Four women filed that big lawsuit back in November, a fifth was added in December.

It was just ninety days ago that four women, accompanied by their high profile Los Angeles Attorney Gloria Allred told state lawmakers that they were raped on the UConn campus and that their calls for help were met with indifference by the university.

They had filed a federal law suit just four weeks before.

Tuesday, that very same committee began the process of overhauling sexual assault policies on the state’s public college campuses.

“This is a national problem, certainly in Connecticut, what transpired at UConn pushed this all to the surface but the bottom line is that it’s happening everywhere in our country,” said Rep. Roberta Willis, (D) Higher Education Committee.

There is a prevailing view at the Capitol that in an effort to protect the university, UConn President Susan Herbst made things worse by by saying the allegations were misguided and untrue. She has since said her comments were misunderstood.

Tuesday two high school seniors told lawmakers their concerns about this.

“What we’re really worried about is that, at the high school level, it’s beginning like…now this makes it sound a bit serious…but like a ‘training ground’ for what is to come in college,” said Kirsi Balazs, Stamford.

“As seniors, we’re going to be in college next year and I think it’s important that there are measures in place for high school students to deal with this issue, starting in high school and that they have the tools to deal with it as they go into college,” said Millie Cunningham, Norwalk.

“What we would really like to see is that once we are seniors, so we’re worried about this for ourselves next year and for our friends who are going to college in Connecticut,” said Balazs.

Even though the university has detailed a lengthy list of procedures to be followed in reports of sexual assault on campus. The lawsuit has sparked fears that it’s not clear everyone knows about them.

Something lawmakers are hoping to change.

“I believe that if we move forward with this legislation, we’ll have the most comprehensive policies in response to sexual and domestic violence at our universities,” said

You can read and entire copy of this proposal here.

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