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OU to expand university resources, training, employees to address sexual misconduct

University of Oklahoma

NORMAN, Okla. – The University of Oklahoma says they will add five new employees to its Offices of Institutional Equity and Gender Equality Center, expand sexual misconduct and discrimination training for students, and add additional employees on the Norman and Health Sciences Center campuses in order to “amplify visibility of services and address increased incident reporting.”

“OU has a lot to be proud of in the performance of our Office of Institutional Equity. But in this area, we must always keep improving and increasing the confidence level in our ability to address and support student needs and concerns,” said Interim President Joseph Harroz Jr.

Officials say they hope to add an intake officer, two investigators (one for each of the Norman and Health Sciences Center campuses) and two new employees in the Norman Campus Gender and Equality Center who will serve as student advocates.

“The addition of new employees in the Gender Equality Center allows us to have individuals in place who enhance our response to those who have experienced traumatic events and allows us to focus on more education and awareness, as well as training for mandatory reporting requirements,” said Bobby Mason, Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) Officer.

The OIE says caseload increases every year with OIE receiving more than 300 reports in the past 12 months.

“Increasing trends in reporting, on the surface, may seem alarming. But our goal is to create an environment at OU where students have enough information to seek support rather than endure sexual or discriminatory misconduct. The increase actually tells me we are reaching students and arming them with the tools they need and are providing an environment where they feel safe to report,” Mason said.

Mason said the intake officer position recommended by OIE will separate the intake process from the investigation.

“Previously, in some cases, the same employee who took the report became the investigator. We believe the separation of these functions will dedicate more time to the investigation process and allow the intake officer to spend more time making service referrals and supporting the individual,” Mason said.

Former University of Oklahoma President David Boren and Vice President Tripp Hall are currently still under investigation by the OSBI for sexual misconduct allegations.

A current employee of the University of Oklahoma has filed a tort claim against the university and is suing the former Vice President over alleged sexual misconduct.

Levi Hilliard, 24, is seeking $350,000 from the university over the “negligent supervision” of Hall.

He claims the alleged sexual misconduct happened while he worked at the University Club.

He says when he reported it, the university swept it under the rug.

He says he reported the first incident to his supervisor, but a Title IX investigation was never done.

Boren has chosen to resign, which terminates the Presidential Transition Agreement and relinquishes his affiliation with the University of Oklahoma as an agreement in the school’s Title IX investigation conclusion.

Hall resigned at the end of last year.

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