TN police, college officials holding two-day meeting on campus sexual assault

Police officers, counselors and educators from 76 public and private colleges across the state will descend on Tennessee State University in Nashville on Tuesday for a two-day summit on campus sexual assault, reports the News Sentinel.

Combining their efforts will allow the schools to learn from each other while also attracting national speakers and sharing the event’s roughly $40,000 costs, leaders from each of the state’s major higher education systems said last week.

“We believe students have every right to expect to be safe on our campus,” UT President Joe DiPietro said Thursday in a conference call with reporters. “We want to do everything we can to be there and support our students when they need us most.”

More than 400 higher-education staffers are expected to turn out for training on issues like defining consent, student disciplinary hearings, complying with changing federal laws and sexual assault prevention.

The event, officially titled the Tennessee Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Summit, comes on the heels of revisions to federal standards and laws on how schools should respond to and report assaults.

At the same time, campuses around the country have come under fire for mishandling assault cases. The U.S. Department is currently investigating nearly 100 schools, including Yale, Princeton and the University of North Carolina, for violations of Title IX, the gender equality statute governing schools that receive federal funding.

The trial of two Vanderbilt University football players accused of raping an unconscious student in a dorm room continues this week in a courthouse three miles from the Tennessee State campus.

In Knoxville, the district attorney’s office is still considering whether to charge two former UT football players accused of raping a fellow student. This week’s event does not specifically include sessions on athletes and sexual assault, but that would not prevent participants from discussing the topic, DiPietro said.