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Weber State University Police Department Chief Dane LeBlanc listens to Lillian Llanos in 2015, a WSU student at the time, and the importance of students’ safety from sexual violence. (The Signpost Archives)

 

Sex discrimination and sexual violence are pressing issues on college campuses, but Weber State University has established resources for victims.

Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments protects students from discrimination based on their gender identity, sex or sexual orientation. Because of it, any educational program that receives federal funds cannot discriminate against students.

The Clery Act requires any college or university receiving federal student aid “to disclose campus safety information and imposes certain basic requirements for handling incidents of sexual assault, stalking, domestic violence and dating violence.” Schools that violate these laws can be fined up to $35,000 or become barred from federal aid programs.

Such institutions must also have a Title IX coordinator who evaluates the school’s compliance with the law and coordinates investigations. Weber State University Executive Director of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Barry Gomberg encourages victims to bring their cases forward.

“If individuals believe that their rights or the rights of others have been or are being violated, they have the right, and sometimes the duty, to report that conduct,” Gomberg said. “If they do, I will investigate the report and take appropriate action to stop any continuing discrimination or harassment, prevent its reoccurrence, address the damaging effects of both for the person whose rights were violated and others who may have been impacted.”

With the Clery Act comes the Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights, which allows survivors to be notified of their options toward contacting law enforcement, receiving counseling services and changing their academic and living accommodations as needed. It also allows both the complainant and respondent to have others present throughout the justice process and to be informed of outcomes from disciplinary proceedings.

The Women’s Center offers advocacy training regarding sexual assault or harassment. This will be the second year of their Safe@Weber Violence Prevention & Advocacy Services.

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WSU Women’s Center staff advocate for Safe@Weber at LUNAFEST on March 3, handing out t-shirts and supplying information. Safe@Weber is a program to prevent discrimination against sex, race, sexual orientation and more, and to prevent violence on campus. (The Signpost Archives)

 

Before each school year, incoming students will receive an email from the university requiring them to complete the online Haven training program, though they can also receive in-person instruction. Students can also take a course in the fall to qualify as peer educators, hold events as volunteers on the planning committee and apply for university positions in the Women’s Center, which comes with a tuition waiver.

“Our aim at Safe@Weber is to make sure students understand what their rights are, that there are resources to help if their rights are infringed upon or if they experienced trauma in some way and that we legally have an obligation to respond,” said Stephanie McClure, director of the Women’s Center.

Other rights guarantee medical attention where victims can be examined for injuries and forensic evidence, speak with an officer or share concerns over sexually transmitted infections, HIV and pregnancy.

Victims can also get help from the university’s Counseling & Psychological Services Center. WSU has an amnesty clause that overlooks underage alcohol or drug use and focuses on the more pertinent safety of the survivor.

Dean of Students Jeffery Hurst supervises student conduct, corrects violations in the student code and assists with the disciplinary process. He maintains that assisting students with cases of violence and discrimination is essential to their well-being.

“This a critical time in students’ lives where they’re making a lot of changes,” Hurst said, “and it can have an extreme impact on students’ lives. We … prevent sexual assault and respond in the best way possible to help students get back on track.”

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