UVA Professor Drafts Bill of Rights for Sexual Assault Survivors

Posted: Updated: Dec 16, 2014 05:24 PM
Prof. Joe Allen reads draft of Survivors' Bill of Rights Prof. Joe Allen reads draft of Survivors' Bill of Rights
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A professor at the University of Virginia is recommending a bill of rights for survivors of sexual assault at UVA.

"You have an absolute right to be free of any retaliation whether from the perpetrator, the perpetrator's friends or others," said professor Joe Allen as he read the Survivor's Bill of Rights. "You do not need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the act occurred".

The psychology professor's seven rights simplify the 18-page UVA Student Sexual Misconduct Complaint Policy. He wrote the document in response to the Rolling Stone article exposing a student's allegations that UVA put its reputation over her rights as a victim of sexual violence.

"You will not be penalized in any way for an accurate report," continued Allen.

UVA President Teresa Sullivan recently praised Allen's proposal in a speech to students, as the university attempts to turn a "culture of rape" - as Rolling Stone magazine put it - into a culture of reporting.

“I'm very attracted to the idea of making this kind of information easily available to everyone,” said Sullivan in her speech.

“They're at the worst moment of their lives, they've just survived something horrible. We need to provide the supports to make that something they feel able to do,” said Allen.

The Survivor's Bill of Rights informs students that their report remains confidential, but they never give up the right to speak freely about what happened.

“We need to let them know that we'll help them get legal advice, that they won't just be left to drift, that we'll put them in touch with other survivors, that they won't be alone, there'll be a community of support behind them,” Allen stated.

Allen believes students who know their rights will break the silence that allows sexual misconduct. “It's clear we're only going to change this problem if we can get survivors of sexual assault to come forward.” 

Allen says he'd like the university to include the bill of rights in student training and post it all around UVA.