New policy requires Oklahoma State University officials to notify police of sexual assault reports

by Silas Allen Published: March 1, 2013
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— Oklahoma State University officials must now call police as soon as they learn of a reported sexual assault on campus.

The Board of Regents for Oklahoma State University and the A&M Colleges approved a package of policy changes related to campus safety and security at a meeting Friday. Although many of them are in response to a series of alleged sexual assaults at OSU, most of them apply to every college and university the board oversees.

Among the new policies is a requirement that officials at every college and university in the system notify police after learning of possible sexual assaults on campus.

The board also voted to update an ethics policy that was already in place, including requiring schools to create an online system for anyone with concerns about campus sexual misconduct to report the issue to campus officials. A similar system is already in place at OSU.

The board also voted to create the position of independent advocate for sexual assault victims. That person will work with sexual assault victims, making them aware of their rights and helping them deal with police, medical personnel and university administrators.

That person would answer to the board of regents, not to the administration at any particular university or college.

The policy changes came at the recommendation of a Regents task force that reviewed policies at the system level and each institution. Initially, the review came in response to the recent sex abuse scandal at Penn State University.

Handling of claims

OSU President Burns Hargis asked the task force in December to review the university's handling of a series of sexual assault claims against a former OSU student.

Former OSU student Nathan Cochran, 22, faces four counts of sexual battery in Payne County in connection with three incidents reported as occurring between Nov. 3, 2011, and Aug. 15.

Cochran is accused of groping male students while they slept. He is scheduled to appear in Payne County District Court at 10 a.m. Monday.

OSU officials learned of the assault reports Nov. 12 but did not contact police, citing concerns about the Federal Education Rights Privacy Act, commonly known as FERPA.

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by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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