Pitt ahead of the curve on sexual assault reporting rules

Two new campus safety laws signed this week by Gov. Tom Wolf won’t have much of an impact on Pitt’s campuses, because the University was already doing what the laws now require.

The first law gives Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities a year to develop online, anonymous systems for students and employees to report sexual assaults. The other gives students who report sexual assault immunity from school policies on drug use and underage drinking.

Pitt already has an online, anonymous system set up at https://www.titleix.pitt.edu/report. Victims also can contact the Title IX office directly at 412-648-7860 or by e-mailing titleixcoordinator@pitt.edu.

“We are proud that the University of Pittsburgh implemented the option of anonymous reporting for victims of sexual assault in 2016,” University spokesman Kevin Zwick said in an emailed statement. “Pitt also already has a provision in place to ensure someone making a good faith report of assault is not sanctioned for personal drug or alcohol use. We applaud the state legislature for making these best practices the new standard for all universities and schools across the commonwealth.”

Wolf, at a news conference in the state Capitol before signing the measures, said: “I don’t want anyone to feel afraid to call 911 to report a serious crime like a rape because he or she might get a citation for something like underage drinking.

“I want to make sure that everybody in the United States and in the world knows that, if you come to college or universities in Pennsylvania, this is a place that you can feel free of the threat of sexual violence.”

In addition to Pitt, Temple launched an online system in 2017 and Penn State said it introduced a system in 2012.

— Susan Jones