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USU President Announces Policy Changes After Sexual Misconduct Investigation


Utah State University announced changes today following a sexual misconduct investigation into the school’s piano department. Speaking at a press conference on Friday, USU President Noelle Cockett did not shy away from taking responsibility.

“We at Utah State made mistakes in the way we handled issues of abuse of mistreatment of students and even of instances of sexual assault," Cockett said.


Over the past few months a number of former USU piano students have spoken up about sexual misconduct and harassment by faculty, even one instance involving rape. Those accounts spurred the university into action and resulted in an outside investigation.


The results of that investigation are now becoming policy changes. The Title IX office, which handles sexual discrimination, will hire more staff and increase prevention training. There will also be a task force created to examine gender inequality on campus. And Cockett said the man at the head of the piano program, Gary Amano, has resigned.


Cockett said none of this would have been possible without these first-hand accounts.


"I just have to thank those people," Cockett said. "It took incredible strength to bring these things forward.”


This could just be the beginning. Cockett encouraged other students to come forward and said more action is still to come.

Dani Hayes of Utah Public Radio contributed to this story. 

Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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