Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., came to Wesleyan Oct. 6 to hear students’ concerns about sexual violence, survivor support and penalties for perpetrators.
This was one of a series of listening sessions the senator is conducting around the state. In his discussions with students he shared details of legislation he has proposed to provide better frameworks on campuses for handling sexual assault cases. Under the bill, colleges and universities would be required to identify confidential advisors and implement minimum training standards. Financial penalties would be imposed on schools that do not comply.
The listening session was held just days after the release of Wesleyan’s annual report on the university’s response to sexual violence, and release of federally mandated “Clery data” on campus crime. Wesleyan has seen a marked increase in the number of reported sexual assaults during the past two years, which was expected given the university’s improved reporting protocols, according to Title IX coordinator and Vice President of Equity and Inclusion Antonio Farias.
“We all wish for a campus free of sexual assault, but to the extent that assaults do occur, we want them to be reported,” Farias said. “We’ve made progress in this area, improving our reporting mechanisms and enhancing the structures in place for survivor support.”
Farias joined Wesleyan’s staff in 2013 and has since reorganized the Office of Equity and Inclusion, recently hiring Debbie Colucci as Equity Compliance Director and Deputy Title IX Coordinator to further buttress Wesleyan’s efforts to address issues such as sexual violence and develop education and prevention programs.