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MSSU Board hears updates on proposed sexual assault legislation, - KOAM TV 7

MSSU Board hears updates on proposed sexual assault legislation, smoke-free campus

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Joplin, MO (SNS) - During a meeting held Friday, Oct. 17, the Missouri Southern State University Board of Governors heard updates on proposed legislation dealing with sexual assault on college and university campuses as well as a student-supported effort to create a smoke-free campus.

Darren Fullerton, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, updated the board on proposed legislation aimed at combating sexual violence.

On Oct. 8, Missouri Southern was one of nearly 50 colleges and universities that sent representatives to visit with U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill during her statewide tour. Attending the meeting were Dr. Alan Marble, president; Darren Fullerton; Dr. Ron Mitchell, dean of students; Debbie Dutch Kelley, director of human resources; Faustina Abrahams, clinical counselor; Rachel Burleson, assistant director of athletics/compliance officer; and Ken Kennedy, chief of the University Police Department.

In July, McCaskill and a bipartisan group of senators introduced the Campus Accountability & Safety Act. The proposed legislation takes aim at sexual assaults on campuses by protecting and strengthening accountability and transparency for institutions -including establishing stiff penalties for non-compliance with the legislation's new standards for training, data and best practices.

It addresses a variety of issues relating to sexual assault, including best practices for campuses, financial penalties against schools, cooperative agreements between colleges and local law enforcement, and the challenges of educating students of the importance and awareness of their rights and responsibilities.

Missouri Southern has been very proactive in the education of its students, faculty and staff and updated the university's sexual assault and violence policies in the months prior to meeting with McCaskill. In June, several staff members attended an advanced sexual assault investigation training session provided by the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management Group.

"Awareness, education and prevention are the best ways to address sexual assault," said Fullerton. "MSSU is taking this issue very seriously. We want our students to know that stopping sexual violence is everyone's responsibility, and the university needs everyone working together to prevent these types of incidents from happening."

In other business, Dr. Pat Lipira, vice president of academic affairs, updated the board on the status of the student-supported effort to create a smoke-free campus.

Under the current policy, smoking and tobacco use is prohibited in all campus buildings, and permitted only in designated areas outside of buildings. A resolution to make the entire campus tobacco-, smoke- and vapor-free by the start of the 2015-16 academic year was approved during a student vote held during the spring semester.

The Student Senate resolution would prohibit the use of tobacco and vapor products on all university property. The next step will be to put the issue to an all-employee vote, said Lipira. The timeframe for that vote will likely be within the next month.

"If we do have support for it, we will form a subcommittee to delve into policy language," she said.

The matter would then be brought to the Board of Governors for consideration.

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