Report: UVM meets Title IX law, process is confusing for some survivors

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 4:52 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 26, 2021 at 6:13 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - University of Vermont officials are reckoning with their handling of allegations of sexual assault. On Monday, an external review of their Title IX office was released, but some students and alumni say they don’t think it’s enough.

Since UVM’s handling of sexual assault allegations was brought to light via social media last spring, officials have been looking at changes.

Vice President of Student Affairs Erica Caloiero said this review was requested by students. “This report was requested by the university of an outside group, so we would have a thorough understanding from an outside source of areas where we need to make change,” she explained.

The report suggest 14 changes, most of which surround communication. Those include providing regular updates to the people involved, scheduling times for follow-up questions rather than cold calling, and developing checklists for investigators.

Some students and alumni say the university could have taken a better approach to the review. “A lot of the recommendations, I do agree with, but they wouldn’t have changed the outcome of my case,” said Syd Ovitt, class of 2021. “If anything, they would’ve made me and hopefully other survivors feel a little more comfortable.”

“The well-being of survivors and survivors’ mental health should be at the forefront of this conversation and I feel like that was not in any of their responses,” said Sydney Partin, a junior at UVM.

Students have expressed concerns this review was performative, but Caloiero said they’ve been investing a lot of time into fixing the reporting and investigation processes. “We are committed to action in this area and working with this student,” Caloiero said. “Supporting change is really the best way we can demonstrate our commitment and sincerity.”

UVM’s president, Suresh Garimella, said they will be implementing all of the recommendations in this report. They’re also working on hiring a sexual violence prevention coordinator.

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