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Harvard accepts sexual assault recommendations

Harvard University’s president, Drew Faust, on Wednesday accepted several recommendations from a recently formed task force for preventing sexual assault on campus and supporting victims.

The Sexual Assault Task Force — composed of students, faculty, and other staff members — was formed in early April and had issued the proposals to Faust on Tuesday in a letter.

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The recommendations include providing “additional resources” to Harvard’s Office of Sexual Assault and Prevention Response; creating a central website with information about victim resources and campus guidance in responding to assaults; ensuring that all schools at Harvard can obtain materials for orientation programs on prevention; and launching a campus survey to gather data on factors including incidents of assault and perceptions about them.

Faust welcomed the proposals Wednesday in her written response to former Harvard provost Steven E. Hyman, who leads the task force.

“I accept and will move at once to implement your four recommendations for immediate action,” Faust wrote in her response, which Harvard provided to the Globe. “I appreciate the focus of the Task Force on important near-term improvements to our approach, and I will ensure that the University acts with equal promptness.”

The task force is expected to continue its work this summer. Faust’s actions were first reported by Harvard Crimson.

In a phone interview, Hyman praised Faust for approving the proposals.

“I am absolutely delighted by president Faust’s response,” he said. “Our task force got started late in the academic year, and during the summer, we didn’t want to lose any momentum or visibility with respect to our community. So we are grateful.”

Faust had convened the task force shortly after two people filed a federal Title IX complaint March 28 against Harvard, alleging the school’s sexual assault policies infringed on civil rights .

Then on May 1, the US Department of Education released a list of 55 colleges across the country, including Harvard and four other Massachusetts schools, facing inquiries of their handling of sexual assault and harassment complaints.

Harvard officials have insisted that the university takes sexual assault and harassment complaints extremely seriously, and that new policies have been developed.

Evan Allen and Marcella Bombardieri of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Jennifer Smith contributed to this report.
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