Reform Is on the Way
SMU pledges increased resources to prevent sexual assault
In light of recommendations from a 20-person task force, SMU is pledging increased education to prevent sexual assaults and additional resources for victims. Gerald Turner commissioned the President's Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Policies and Procedures in September 2012. The group released its findings May 8 and offered 41 recommendations, including the addition of anonymous reporting and free access to after-hours counselors.
The task force, composed of SMU students, staff and trustees, as well as representatives from the legal community, called for the definitions of consent, sexual misconduct and sexual assault to be carefully reviewed with students of all ages.
"Students need clear definitions of these terms and the opportunity to discuss their application to social situations," the task force report reads. "While all first-year students currently receive some training, this training should be enhanced and extended to upper-level students."
Shortly before the task force was created in September, two SMU students were charged with sexual assault.
Donald Samuel Cuba, 20, was arrested September 10, 2012, for an alleged act of sexual assault in an SMU dormitory. The incident occurred in February, and an internal campus panel initially found Cuba guilty before reversing its decision. Ultimately, the case was forwarded to the Dallas district attorney's office, which filed charges against Cuba. His criminal trial is scheduled to begin May 20.
John David Mahaffey, 19, was arrested September 25, 2012, and charged with sexual assault for allegedly forcing a male student to give him oral sex. Mahaffey claimed the act was consensual, though a conversation recorded by police suggested otherwise.
Mahaffey was indicted by a grand jury in November, but the Dallas district attorney's office dropped the charges in March 2013.
SMU said that vice president for student affairs Lori White will oversee the implementation of all 41 task force recommendations. In statement, university president Gerald Turner reaffirmed SMU's commitment to preventing sexual assault:
Sexual misconduct is a serious issue at universities and colleges nationwide, which are required by the federal government to investigate allegations and hold violators accountable through an internal grievance procedure. Even without such requirements, SMU is committed to policies and procedures that uphold community standards and foster a healthy learning environment based on mutual respect, responsible behavior and fair treatment of all students.