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OU adds employees, training for students to address sexual misconduct and discrimination

NORMAN, Okla. - After several Title IX investigations at OU and hundreds of reports involving sexual misconduct and discrimination, OU is adding more staff to help curb the problem.

“Gender-based violence and sexual assault happens on campus. Not talking about it just gives it free rein,” Erin Simpson, Director of the Gender Equality Center said.

While mandatory training classes have already been available to freshman and transfer students, this will expand training to other students.

“Our goal would be we don`t have to have an advocates program because our prevention education is so strong,” Simpson said.

The university is also hiring five new employees which will include two investigators at the Norman and OU Health Sciences campus. The goal is to raise awareness about resources to those who experience misconduct or discrimination.

“If we care about the mission of education, we care about access then we care for them to be protected and be educated through this process without the fear of being harassed or assaulted while they`re on campus,” Dr. David Surratt, VP Student of Affairs, Dean of Students for OU said.

It comes months after allegations against OU`s former president David Boren and former Vice President Tripp Hall who are both under investigation by OSBI for alleged sexual misconduct.

OU officials say this training was in the works before those allegations surfaced.

But some students don`t think it will help, including those who say they've been discriminated against.

“I`ve had bottles thrown at me. I`ve been called a fa**ot from across the street,” Rafael Anguiano, an OU senior said. “Just adding more staff- I don`t think is going to do enough to really get us to where we want to be.”

“It`s hard to teach that. It`s more a culture thing,” OU Student Morgan Geary said.

But OU believes these resources will help.

“I hope we get to a point where we`re not having to respond to sexual violence in our college campus but rather proactively stopping it,” Dr. Surratt said.

OU's answer to creating a safer campus.

Public advocate for Jess Eddy and Levi Hilliard sent a statement with the following:

“We are disappointed by OU’s recent decision to merely increase the number of employees working to prevent sexual misconduct at OU. While this action may address other concerns, it is not responsive to the numerous victims’ complaints and issues that have been expressed lately. We have asked for reform - in policies and personnel. Until Title IX sees major changes in how complaints are managed and significant change in the leadership of the office, we cannot trust OU’s commitment to the safety, health and well-being of its students and employees.”

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