MUNCIE, Ind. - With weeks to go before college students head back to class, Ball State University announced major adjustments to its sexual misconduct policy Monday.
This year Ball State officials have expanded their current safety policy as it relates to sexual misconduct. They assembled a board of specially trained professionals to address student complaints about dating violence, stalking and sexual abuse.
Officials said they want students to feel more comfortable reporting crimes. School administrators hope students will educate themselves on the new policy before school starts.
"When a report comes to our attention, the first thing we will do is investigate. We have a team of people who have gone through specialized training to conduct investigations," Dean of Students Kay Bales said.
School officials want students to trust that they will take all complaints seriously and hand out punishments that fit the crime.
"We want students to know it's important that they report violations of our sexual misconduct policy, that they know there is a place where they can receive assistance," Bales said.
Samantha Girt spent Monday checking out the campus that will be her home for the next four years. She said she is counting on her time at Ball State to be educational, fun and safe.
"I was just thinking about you know, I'm scared if I'm out walking at night or something, but during the tours and stuff, everywhere you look there is a security button that you can press so that made me feel better, but it's always a concern," Girt said.
Last year, 35 cases of sexual misconduct were reported to Ball State officials. Nine of those complaints advanced to a school judicial process. The numbers were similar for the 2012-2013 school year.
A U.S. Senate subcommittee found nearly 40 percent of institutions reported not having conducted a sexual assault investigation in the past five years.
More than 30 percent of schools do not provide any sexual assault training for students.