Rutgers president calls for changes into sexual harassment investigations

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NEW BRUNSWICK -

The president of Rutgers University is called for changes to take place into how the university investigates sexual harassment and assault claims.

President Robert Barchi sent a letter to the Rutgers Governing Board with details of the changes. The letter asks that any complaint of sexual harassment or misconduct be investigated no matter how long ago it took place. 

Barchi directly refers to the work and investigations conducted by the Office of Employment Equity, the department at the university that looks into allegations of misconduct.

In his letter, Barchi said, “It has never been more important for universities to be proactive in addressing sexual assault and harassment, and to provide support and closure for victims whenever possible."

The president also said called for changes into the university’s policy of only investigating claims of sexual harassment that happened in the last two years. He said, "This language is inconsistent with both our practices and our values, and we must send a clear message of our commitment to pursue any complaint of sexual harassment or misconduct for which evidence and witnesses remain."

Barchi’s letter is in response to a report by New Jersey Advance Media that found that several women had recently come forward to the Office of Employment Equity to report instances of harassment that took place many years ago. But because of the two-year statute of limitations, the university declined to investigate.

Following Barchi’s request, those decisions may he reversed.

Women on the Rutgers campus tell News 12 New Jersey that they are happy with Barchi’s requests.

"It shouldn't matter how long ago it happened,” says student Emma Johnson. “Someone could feel scared while they're here and need years to process it."

Barchi also noted that he is setting up a committee on the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Rutgers.

The president says that he wants a review of the Office of Employment Equity finished by the end of the month.

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