Herbst defends UConn's response to sex assaults - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Herbst defends UConn's response to sex assaults

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STORRS, CT (WFSB) -

UConn's president answered allegations that the University of Connecticut ignored women who said they were sexually assaulted.

Susan Herbst talked about the civil rights complaint filed by seven current and former UConn students earlier this week.

Herbst adamantly said the university does a number of things to protect women and is offended over accusations that the college is insensitive to women who have been assaulted.

"I completely reject the notion that we don't care about these all-important issues because nothing could be further from the truth," Herbst said. 

At a board of trustees meeting Wednesday morning, Herbst defended the university. Herbst strongly objected to the accusations by seven students that they were raped and no one seemed to care.

"It was difficult this week to hear our officers painted as uncaring, insensitive and rude," Herbst said.

The seven said UConn police officers suggested they were at fault and made comments that made them feel victimized again.

"Bad things are inevitable, but I think it was really big of those girls to come forward because that's the only way changes are going to be made," said Amanda Craig, who is a freshman at UConn.

While Herbst said she can't comment on the specifics of these cases, she stressed the university has mandatory training on sexual assault and harassment. They also do research and have ongoing discussions on sexual assault. The university has strengthened its policies.

Sexual assault is a problem on many college campuses. Connecticut lawmakers recently passed a number of changes to create more awareness, mandate uniform crime reports on campus and have better response procedures.

Young women and men told Eyewitness News they feel there needs to be support.

"I think the university is doing the best it can," said Sam Guerra, who is a freshman at UConn. "I think there definitely could be more options the university and we as students can explore."

University officials told Eyewitness News they are following all aspects of the new state laws and were following them even before this legislation.

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