Susan SnyderStudents no longer will serve on panels hearing cases of sexual assault at the University of Pennsylvania, and faculty who are on those panels will get more training, under changes announced Monday.
A newly hired “sexual violence investigative officer” will receive all complaints, and those that he can’t resolve will go to a three-member panel of faculty members. Those faculty members will be drawn from a pool who will receive training when they are selected and again before they hear a complaint, the university said. Previously, the panels also included students.
Penn joins a growing number of schools around the country that have examined their practices in the wake of increased scrutiny over the handling of sexual assault and harassment on campus. More women are coming forward to lodge complaints, and men who are accused of assault in some cases are suing universities for disciplinary action taken against them. More than 90 universities around the country — Penn is not one of them — are under review by the U.S. Department of Education for their handling of sexual assault.
“We are trying to make this as fair and as impartial of a process as possible, said Joann Mitchell, vice president of institutional affairs at Penn.
The decision to no longer include students on the panels, she said, comes after consulting with experts, peer schools and Penn students who have had to serve on panels.
“It’s an extremely stressful process,” she said.
The university, she said, also wants to build a pool of expert panel members who will serve for a period of years, and that can be done more easily with faculty rather than students who are there for a limited time. The panels hear a few cases a year, she said.
The effort to professionalize the handling of sexual assault cases appears to be gaining momentum. Swarthmore College had turned to a retired Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice to oversee its cases. A task force at Pennsylvania State University earlier this month announced 18 to 20 proposed changes, including the hiring of an investigator and mandatory training for all employees. The task force also recommended a change in the hearing process. Victims and the accused currently must go before a panel of faculty, administrators and students – virtually a panel of strangers - and discuss what happened. Under the proposal, an investigator would conduct the interviews and submit a report to the panel for consideration.
At Penn, the changes — which take effect Feb. 1 — were announced late Monday afternoon by President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price in a memo to the Penn community.
They also announced that the university has hired Christopher Mallios, an attorney who previously worked in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, as the new sexual violence investigative officer. Mallios, who most recently was attorney advisor for AEquitas, a consulting firm providing training and support to prosecutors in issues of sexual violence, domestic violence and stalking, started work at Penn on Monday.
In the DA’s office, Mallios served for four years as chief of the office’s Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit and also was the liaison to the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Under the university’s new guidelines, Mallios will field complaints for all 12 of Penn’s schools. In the past, some schools had their own procedures for dealing with complaints.
A Rowan University student was shot early Sunday morning at an apartment complex near campus, school officials said.
Anayochukwu Logan Iloabanafor, a freshman at the university, was shot around 1 a.m. He was taken to Cooper University Hospital, where he was listed in good condition and expected to make a full recovery, the university said in an email blast sent shortly after 3:30 a.m.
His attackers were found in Gloucester Township, about ten miles to the northeast, and taken into custody, the school said.
Now that a deal with the NCAA to restore 111 wins under late football coach Joe Paterno has been struck, is it time to honor him on campus?
Anthony Lubrano, an alumni-elected member of Penn State’s board of trustees, says yes.
He’d like to see Paterno’s bronze statue with his finger in the air in victory restored to its rightful location outside Beaver Stadium. Homecoming might be a nice time to do it, said Lubrano, a Glenmoore businessman.
Sen. Jake Corman has announced a press conference at 1 p.m. to "announce a significant development regarding NCAA sanctions."
The announcement comes as Pennsylvania State University's board of trustees prepares to go into a private session where one source said the NCAA sanctions will be discussed.
President Eric Barron confirmed that the board will discuss the "significant development" but declined to say if it was a settlement.
The board of trustees meetings at Penn State continue to take on new twists.
In November for the first time, audience members had to pass through metal detectors to enter after the university said it received threats.
Now, public comment no longer will occur in the open session.
A Penn State task force on harassment and sexual assault has recommended 18 to 20 changes in university practices, including the hiring of an investigator and mandatory training for all employees.
Damon Sims, vice president for student affairs, presented some of the proposals to members of the board of trustees’ academic committee on Thursday. The recommendations, he said, will go to President Eric Barron for consideration.
Penn State, like many universities across the country, has examined its practices in the wake of increased scrutiny over the handling of sexual assault and harassment on campus. More than 90 universities around the country, including Penn State, are under review by the federal education department for their handling of sexual assault cases.
Pennsylvania State University’s board of trustees will debate Friday on whether to join a lawsuit against the NCAA which sanctioned the university in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
In the midst of a heated exchange over procedures for calling special meetings, trustee Richard Dandrea said the board will spend time – probably quite a lot of time – discussing and then voting on a resolution that would have the university oppose the NCAA in the lawsuit filed by State Sen. Jake Corman, (R., Centre) , and Treasurer Rob McCord.
Alumni-elected trustee Anthony Lubrano introduced the resolution at the board’s meeting in November, following the release of e-mails suggesting NCAA officials questioned their own authority to punish Penn State and bluffed the university leadership into accepting the sanctions. But a board majority tabled the resolution to the board’s private executive session in January, set for Friday morning.
A Stockton College project that studied the state’s public higher education system for more than a year concluded that colleges should add more practical skills.
Recommendations from the Higher Education Strategic Information and Governance project include expanding dual enrollment programs for high school students to earn college credit, offering more internship and on-the-job study programs for current students, and granting credit for nonacademic work experience to potential students.
“The single biggest thing the citizens tell us is give me more: Along with the academic skills and abilities, more in-college practical skills and experiences,” said Darryl G. Greer, who heads the project.