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U of M Officials Brief Regents on Efforts to Combat Misconduct

February 09, 2018 01:11 PM

The University of Minnesota's Board of Regents Friday heard from school officials on current and future plans to combat sexual misconduct at the university.

The regents listened to presentations by U of M President Eric Kaler, Dean of the School of Public Health John Finnegan and Associate Professor in the College of Education and Human Development Karen Miksch.

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RELATED: U of M Changes Sexual Misconduct Reporting Requirements

A new policy took effect on January 1, after several reported scandals at the university. But Kaler said new efforts to try to prevent sexual misconduct began in late 2016.

"Sexual misconduct is now the center of a serious national conversation," Kaler said. "We here at the University are not immune from this crisis, from this epidemic. Whether it be in the classroom, the residence hall, the department meeting or the tailgate party, we at the university have our own sexual misconduct crisis. It must be aggressively addressed and the culture has to change."

The first phase is currently underway. It involves faculty and students getting online training on sexual misconduct.

RELATED: Expert: How University Sexual Assault Investigations Are Handled

Miksch described the second phase, which involves face-to-face training for students. She said it will differ, depending on if an individual is an undergraduate, graduate or professional student.

The student training would also have some type of online skill building component as well.

"I believe that our university community has reached a point where the spectrum of behavior the President described, as well as the conditions that give rise to it, are no longer acceptable," Finnegan said.

Finnegan and Miksch described how training would be as tailor-made as possible. That's in order to do as much as possible to stop sexual misconduct before it happens.

RELATED: University of Minnesota Works to Prevent Sexual Assault

"Bystanders empowered to intervene assertively, but appropriately, is a major mark of important culture change, and it breaks that silence conspiracy," Finnegan said.

Finnegan said the school will continue to hone in on the public health approach, and said research shows the following:

"Different groups of people within the university community face different forms of risk when it comes to encountering sexual misconduct based on the different social issues that affect them," Finnegan said. "They say part of the public health approach to solving this issue is to change the university's culture around the problem."

Measuring success is part of that approach.

Miksch said part of testing outcomes will include a post online analysis of the training people have gone through.


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Brandi Powell

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