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Indiana Campuses Facing Sexual Assaults Look to Lawmakers for Help

December 10, 2014

Colleges looking for ways to reduce sexual assault on campus may turn to lawmakers for help defining the word “consent.”

Rape allegations are difficult to investigate when there is misunderstanding about when “yes” means “yes,” representatives of several universities told members of the state Higher Education Commission on Wednesday, November 12, 2014.

Prompting the commission’s interest are increasing numbers of sexual assaults reported on the state’s campuses. That includes IU-Bloomington, which has been under review by the U.S. Department of Education for possible violations of federal law in how it handles sexual violence

At Wednesday’s meeting, state Rep. Christina Hale, D-Indianapolis, said a first step is recognizing the seriousness of sexual assault and how much it’s underreported, especially among students. “Indiana lacks a definition of ‘consent’ ” she told the commission. It is unknown whether Indiana is ready to make a determination on these issues, but future studies that are likely to be released soon will likely guide lawmakers.

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