Document Brings OU and Athens Together In Fight Against Sexual Assault

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Ohio University and the City of Athens joined together to provide guidance on a problem both areas saw over the last semester.

In a new appendix to the city-university Memorandum of Understanding, signed by OU President Roderick McDavis and Athens Mayor Paul Weihl, both agencies gave “clear guidance to Ohio University Police Department and Athens Police Department on reporting, investigating and communicating about sexual assault and relationship-based violence,” according to a release by the university.

The new document makes formal a commitment by both departments to “communicate appropriately with survivor advocates and other victim support providers, and ensure their officers are kept abreast of the latest best practices for sexual assault investigations,” the release stated.

“I am pleased to be able to sign this MOU appendix for the protection and support of victims of sexual misconduct,” McDavis stated in the release. “Ohio University remains fully committed to addressing serious threats to our students on campus and in the community.”

The university is in the midst of a search for a new head to the Survivor Advocacy Program, since program coordinator Delaney Anderson left the program in October for a position outside the university. OUSAP has closed while the search continues, and participants in the program have been referred to other resources.

“This agreement, combined with our existing mutual aid agreement, establishes a strong relationship as we improve operations and outreach to victims of sexual assault and other covered crimes,” Weihl said in the release.

The memorandum itself was established in 2012 in an effort to document collaborations between the university and the city. It includes Safety and Services, Land Use Planning, Emergency Management, Joint Infrastructure and Utilities and Disability and Accessibility Planning.

Mayor-elect Steve Patterson is expected to renew the memorandum with McDavis for another four years.