- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - A University of Illinois task force on sexual assault met for the first time Wednesday and plans to survey the school’s three campuses to assess the situation at each, a spokesman said Wednesday.

The new task force is supposed to finish the surveys at the Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield campuses by the spring, university spokesman Tom Hardy said. There are about 18 members on the task force, including students, public-safety officials, student-services staff and others, Hardy said.

University President Robert Easter created the group in late October. He said in a letter at the time that the task force was started because “issues concerning sexual violence on college campuses have been in the national spotlight.”

He also noted the group would help the university respond to the pending Campus Accountability and Safety Act. The federal legislation, if it becomes law, would strengthen penalties for universities that don’t report sexual assaults. Schools are already required to report such data under the Clery Act.

Sexual violence on college campuses has been a subject of news reports and political debate in recent months. The U.S. Department of Education earlier this year said 55 colleges and universities are under investigation for possibly mishandling sexual assault claims; no University of Illinois campuses were on that list.

Hardy added that he isn’t aware of any particular problems at the university that led Easter to create the task force.

The group plans to meet regularly as it works on the campus surveys, Hardy said.


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