Ohio State announced it was dissolving its Sexual Civility and Empowerment Unit in June, leaving one less option for students affected by sexual misconduct to receive support.
On Tuesday, the university announced steps to fill that void by creating a “centralized office for responding to sexual- and gender-based harassment, violence and other forms of discrimination and harassment.” The university said the name and structure of this office will be finalized throughout the Fall Semester.
“The university will continue to focus on advancing our efforts in this vital area,” President Michael Drake said in a press release. “The members of our Buckeye community deserve nothing less.”
For now, the intake-and-outreach coordinators of the new office will be working under Title IX Coordinator Kellie Brennan to help direct students, faculty and staff to resources that deal with sexual misconduct along with advising them their rights in those situations, the university said.
SCE originally went under review in February. The university later received the report on May 28 and the unit was dissolved on June 19.
The report delivered to Ohio State found SCE had failed to properly document and report information regarding some sexual assault complaints made by students.
The university also announced in June that it had secured the services of national experts Gina Maisto Smith and Leslie M. Gomez from the Philadelphia-based law firm Cozen O’Connor to help create a new student-support system, as well as improve Ohio State’s compliance with federal laws.
The university said changes recommended by Smith and Gomez would be in place before the start of fall classes. It said Tuesday’s announced changes are in line with an interim report from Smith and Gomez.
The most recent statement included additional steps the university will be taking in its review of Title IX programs and procedures.
One of these steps include an online course to give students the education and tools to prevent, challenge and report any inappropriate and harmful behavior. Another step taken will be to add two students on the Buckeye ACT taskforce and improving the Title IX website with detailed information of support services available for students.
The Philadelphia law firm plans to speak with students this semester for recommendations on further implementations.
“The actions taken thus far are part of a series efforts that will continue to enhance the university’s prevention and response programs,” Gomez said in a statement. “Student input and feedback are critical.”