Students react to UH Manoa sexual assault investigation

Published On: May 01 2014 07:03:19 PM HST   Updated On: May 01 2014 07:55:31 PM HST

The University of Hawaii's Manoa campus is among 55 universities and colleges under investigation over how it handles sexual abuse complaints. That list includes Harvard University and Boston University.

Click here to watch Paula Akana's report.

Investigators from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights were in town this week to meet with the campus community.

OCR investigators say the list includes investigations opened because of complaints received and others initiated by the OCR as compliance reviews. They met with students, faculty and staff, administration and regents over a three-day period.

In a news release, UH officials say they were told the visit "....was not triggered by a complaint and that it was not based on an individual incident."

UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple called the audit "...a productive opportunity to see how else we can enhance student safety, above and beyond what we're doing already.

The latest statistics provided to us by UH security show that in 2012, 11 sexual offenses were reported on campus; nine in dorms and residential areas. 12 sexual offenses were reported the year before.
Students tell KITV they want more and hope the OCR visit will help.

"Well I don't feel safe on campus. Campus security is always there. It's always available, but it still doesn't make me feel confident walking around at night," said Carmela Arcenas, a UH junior.

"As a guy I feel safe on campus. I don't know about the girls, but while I feel it's safe. I don't know how this came about, but it seems like a serious issue," said UH Junior Nick Vaiana.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on gender in schools receiving federal monies. It was authored by the late Hawaii Congresswoman Patsy Mink.

Many think of it as just providing equality in athletics, but under Title IX discrimination on the basis of sex can include sexual harassment and sexual assault.

On Wednesday the OCR released new guidance regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault.

UH Interim President David Lassner said all of the UH campuses are working to comply with the new requirements and he says they have a new system-wide steering committee in place to facilitate.


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