UT Interim President: University creating culture of rape prevention

Interim President Nagi Naganathan
Interim President Nagi Naganathan

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - The University of Toledo's interim president says the university has their priorities straight when it comes to handling sexual assault cases.

In September of 2013, a University of Toledo student says she was raped at an off-campus apartment. Her alleged rapist was charged with sexual misconduct by the school – a charge for incidents ranging from unwanted advances to violent sexual acts. He was fined a $25 administrative fee and received educational sanctions.

"I always say it has to be reasonable. We wouldn't give every sanction possible to someone," said UT Student Conduct Officer Mary Martinez.

Now the victim says UT mishandled her case and has filed a complaint, while university officials say they are already in the process of making policy changes.

Interim University President Dr. Nagi Naganathan says they are not making changes as a result of this case, but he says the university has been making changes to the way they handle sexual assaults for years and feels the university has its priorities in place.

"The policies and procedures are something we continue to improve, but we are also creating a culture of prevention by educating students ahead of time," Naganathan said.

In the fall of 2013, the university's one staff member dedicated to educating students on preventing sexual assault stepped down. Rather than replace that person, the university appointed five staff members to become sexual assault advocates. These staff members have other responsibilities at UT, but they have been trained by the YWCA and work to educate students about campus resources and recommend counselors to students.

"We want to make sure the student affected knows how to get help. We want to make sure the student is safe – that is paramount in all of this," Naganathan said. "I know how I think about it as a parent, so that is the principal goal driving this."

Dr. Naganathan is the father of a college student. When asked how he would feel if his daughter was raped and her offender remained in school, on campus, he said:

"I don't wish that situation on any parent – that is ultimately our goal. You don't want any student to be affected. You don't want any parent to be in those shoes dealing with this."

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