FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- State Rep. Tony Hwang (R-Fairfield) recently sat in on an informal hearing to help protect the rights of sexual assault victims on state college campuses.
Hwang sat in on the meeting with other legislative committee members at the State Capitol on Nov. 13 following allegations that the University of Connecticut failed to pursue sexual assault complaints. Legislators heard testimony from both University of Connecticut officials and student plaintiffs in a "serious and emotionally charged public hearing," according to a release.
“All students need to know that our universities have appropriate policies and procedures in place for reporting violent assaults on campus and if needed, their pleas for help will not go unheard," said Hwang. "A lack of a strong institutional response to an act of campus violence is inexcusable and sends an inexcusable and chilling message to future victims. Assault victims deserve a respectful and diligent due process investigation when reporting an alleged crime, not a cold shoulder from their university officials.”
Hwang said he was committed to education and prevention of sexual assaults on college campuses and communities. Hwang co-sponsored legislation in 2012, which is now Connecticut law, which requires colleges to adopt, disclose and include in their annual, uniform campus crime report one or more policies on sexual assault and intimate partner violence.
“It is critical for college campuses to secure safe campus environments by adhering to policy that support victims of sexual assault by advocating for them and utilizing organizations like The Center for Women and Families to help them in their endeavors," said Debra Greenwood, CEO/President of The Center for Women and Families.
“Victims blame themselves when an assault happens and it is the responsibility of the college campuses to help victims understand that there is 'zero' tolerance for sexual assaults and to create an atmosphere that encourages the victims to seek help immediately. Advocates at our agency are professionals trained in working with victims of abuse and assure them that they didn’t do anything to wrong to warrant this vicious act of violence.”
Fairfield University officials offered support of adhering to the legislative requirement and reaffirmed their mission in preventing sexual assault and violence on its campus, according to the release.
“Fairfield University is committed to providing a secure living and learning environment free of all forms of harassment and violence," officials said in the release. "The institution has a long history of, and been recognized for, providing a safe campus.
"This commitment is reflected in our policies, our compliance practices, as well as our mandated reporting procedures. Fairfield provides a myriad of sexual violence awareness training and prevention programs that are designed in accordance with best practices. We review and update these programs annually.”