New university policy to prevent abuse

Published 10/25 2012 10:28PM

Updated 10/26 2012 08:39AM

CHAMPAIGN -- A national scandal is changing the UI's policy on sexual abuse. University employees and students now have to go through training.

It's all in an effort to prevent what happened at Penn State from happening here. University officials started looking at their policies ten months ago, right after the Penn State scandal broke.

Since the incident brought such awareness to sexual abuse, Thursday leaders decided to keep it on the minds of everyone on campus. 

It's a subject no one wants to think about in a room full of smiles at the "Fall Fighting Illini Football Camp." Ronald Baker is just one of the parents who says the thought creeps in from time to time.

"If the stuff that happened at Penn State were to happen to one of my boys, I am not sure how I would react to that," says Baker.

All employees have to go through sexual harassment training. Now the UI will know where every kid on campus is at all times, before it was just their department.

Those who have regular contact with kids will get background checks every three years. Brian Walsh coordinates camps for UI and says the policy is a must to make parents feel safe.

"One of the questions we've gotten over the last year and the last summer is supervision. Who is supervising my son or daughter? And how did you go about selecting that person?" says Walsh.

Incoming freshman will be required to go through training too, but some aren't convinced that college kids will take it seriously.

"What they take outside of the training is how it will be effective, and I would worry about students taking it as a joke or blowing it off and that's when it wouldn't be effective." says Amy Budz.

"I think though with the situation at Penn State, people will see that and know that it's a really serious matter," says Tyler Spytz.

In that case, it was a serious matter that wasn't reported right away. However, the UI's new policy requires anyone suspecting abuse has to blow the whistle.

"What the policy will do is make people more aware that there's a procedure in place and identify problems to look for in the future," says Walsh.

A university-wide task force put this together and some of these new policies are already being put in place. They'll be outlined for the board at a meeting on November 8.

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