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CARBONDALE — One day after hearing impassioned pleas from campus sexual-assault protesters, members of Southern Illinois University’s Board of Trustees vowed to examine the university’s investigative and support policies surrounding sexual violence.

Neither trustees nor top-ranking administrators immediately addressed protesters’ concerns on Wednesday, when a group of about 40 activists marched two miles across campus to the Stone Center, where trustees were holding a public work session in advance of their board meeting Thursday.

But at a news conference after Thursday’s meeting, SIU system President Randy Dunn and board vice-chairwoman Donna Manering said the board will take action.

“(We want to) have people come in that know more about the policies and practices so that we gain that information, that concrete information,” Manering said. “Then I’m sure we’ll have some ideas and some suggestions on how to move forward.”

Dunn said he imagines the board will hold discussion with campus staffers and representatives from constituent groups at its next scheduled meeting in March.

Activists' concerns ranged from a lack of transparency in investigations to investigators showing disrespect and disbelief toward complainants.

Tierra Carpenter, a student who said she was sexually assaulted on campus in September, said SIU police told her she was “not cooperative” because she didn’t have a rape kit.

“(I once thought the) ultimate betrayal is that he sexually assaulted me,” she said. “But the ultimate betrayal I’m feeling is really from my university.”

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Sarah Graham is a reporter for The Southern Illinoisan covering higher education and Union County.

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