New committee, position at U. of C. may signal tougher sex assault stance

Following actions that triggered a Title IX investigation, the University of Chicago is revamping its sexual assault policies.

Following actions that triggered a Title IX investigation, the University of Chicago is revamping its sexual assault policies.

By LINDSAY WELBERS
Staff Writer

The University of Chicago’s revised sexual misconduct policy went into effect on July 1.

The new approach creates a university-wide disciplinary committee for allegations of student sexual assault or unlawful discrimination. Previously cases were handled by the dean of students. If further disciplinary action was deemed necessary, a committee from within the involved students’ division would determine an appropriate punishment.

The university also created a full-time position for an associate dean of students in the University for Disciplinary Affairs, who will handle sexual misconduct cases. The university is currently conducting a nationwide search. That associate dean will investigate allegations of sexual misconduct and unlawful discrimination and work in an advisory capacity on best practices for preventing sexual assault, misconduct, discrimination and discipline.

Kenyatta Tatum Futterman will serve in that position on an interim basis. Futterman is an adviser in the college during the academic year and has practiced family law and provided assistance to victims of domestic violence.

The university has been under federal investigation for violations to Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972 to the Civil Rights Act after it mishandled a student’s sexual assault report.

The Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has been investigating the university since 2013.

Susan Art, then dean of students, handled the case but failed to tell the reporting second-year student that sexual misconduct cases do not have a statute of limitations and she did not need to make a decision immediately. The student, Olivia Ortiz, said she was pushed into informal mediation, a process that is not allowed under the law or the university’s policy on sexual assault.

Susan Art left her position as dean of students at the end of this academic year.

Ortiz filed a complaint wit the OCR in February of 2013. The OCR accepted her case and began investigating in June 2013.

l.welbers@hpherald.com