- Associated Press - Thursday, October 1, 2015

STORRS, Conn. (AP) - The University of Connecticut reported Thursday that it dealt with 85 sexual assault complaints last year and seven students were expelled as a result.

But state Rep. Roberta Willis said the number that jumped out at her from the university’s first mandated report to lawmakers on sexual violence was the 251 programs implemented on campus to bring awareness to the problem.

Connecticut’s legislature since 2012 has passed a series of laws designed to ensure colleges and universities do a better job responding to sexual violence complaints, including filing annual reports detailing the problem and the programs designed to address it. The first reports were due Thursday, and UConn was among the first to make its report public. Similar reports are expected to be made public in the coming days from every college and university in the state.

Willis, D-Salisbury, the House chair of the legislature’s Higher Education Committee, said she received most of those reports by Thursday afternoon, though the state university system, which includes Central, Eastern, Western and Southern Connecticut State universities, has asked for a two-week extension.

“We expect the sexual assault numbers to rise as reporting increases,” Willis said. “We’re asking schools to change the culture. This is an indication that the law is working as we intended it to.”

The state report released Thursday is more comprehensive than the federal data the university released last week, which showed 43 reported rapes on campus last year, up from 18 the previous year. The state report includes sexual assaults committed on and off campus and sexual assaults that were reported last year but occurred in previous years.

“We still provide resources and support when students come forward to report childhood sexual abuse or incidents that are unrelated to UConn,” said Elizabeth Conklin, UConn’s Title IX coordinator and the author of its report.

According to UConn’s report, 59 of the reported sexual assaults occurred last year and 46 were committed by members of the university community. There were 13 university disciplinary proceedings regarding sexual assault. Twenty-four victims chose not to participate in the university disciplinary process.

The report also showed there were 18 claims of stalking at UConn last year, 17 involving members of the university community. Four of the stalking reports resulted in university disciplinary cases. One student was suspended, two students were placed on probation and one student was cleared.

The report doesn’t indicate how many of the sexual assault or other cases resulted in criminal prosecutions.

Yale University, which puts out a report every six months, reported 42 sexual assaults and 15 stalking incidents last year.

The reporting requirements were part of legislation passed after a series of high-profile incidents, including a Title IX lawsuit that UConn settled with a group of women who alleged it responded to their claims of campus sexual assaults with deliberate indifference or worse. Title IX is the federal law that guarantees equal educational opportunities to students regardless of gender at schools that receive federal funds.

The idea behind the law was to give students and lawmakers an apples-to-apples view of the sexual assault problem and responses at campuses. The reports provide details of how the schools investigate complaints and the resources available to victims.

Conklin said they will provide a great tool for schools looking to compare their best practices with those at other schools.

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