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Hundreds sign online petition seeking 'affirmative consent' policy at U

 Student leaders have started an online petition urging the University of Minnesota to implement a new sexual-assault policy without delay.

The petition, on, has drawn more than 900 signatures in the hours since Wednesday's decision by President Eric Kaler to postpone the so-called "affirmative consent" rule until September because of concerns raised by members of the Board of Regents.

The rule, which is similar to those surfacing on college campuses throughout the country, would create a new definition of sexual assault at the U. It states that students could face disciplinary action, including expulsion, for sexual encounters unless both participants express consent through "clear and unambigous words and actions."

On Wednesday, Regent Michael Hsu asked for the delay after news reports about the policy, which critics have denounced as unrealistic and unfair, particularly when it comes to protecting the rights of the accused.

But the petition, created by student body president Joelle Stangler, says that students strongly support the policy change as a way of combatting sexual assault. And it urges the university to make sure it's in place by the time school starts this fall.

"This is not controversial, revolutionary, or anything other than common sense student safety," it reads. "We need this policy to be implemented on schedule and not be delayed until after September."

The rule change was poised to take effect as soon as next week, following a 30-day public comment period.

Tuition freeze is still possible at U, President Kaler says

$42 million.

That's the amount the University of Minnesota would need in extra state funds to continue freezing tuition for undergraduate state residents, President Eric Kaler said Friday.

So depending on how legislators decide to split the $166 million that their leaders have agreed to set aside for higher education, he said there's a good chance tuition won't go up at the U, at least for Minnesota undergrads.

The U had asked for a bigger increase, in part to extend the tuition freeze to graduate students and to expand other programs. But Kaler reaffirmed Friday that his first priority is extending the undergraduate tuition freeze that began in 2013.

"If we get $42 million, there will not be a tuition increase for Minnesota resident undergraduates," he said Friday.

Officials at the Minnesota's other public college system, MnSCU, have also asked for funds to extend the tuition freeze at its seven state universities and 24 two-year colleges. A spokesman released a brief statement Friday, noting that the precise dollar amount slated for MnSCU won't be known until a legislative conference committee completes its work.

The tuition rates for this fall will be set this summer by the U Board of Regents and MnSCU's Board of Trustees.

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