Written By: John Preer
Sexual assault on college campuses has been in national headlines recently because of President Obama’s newly appointed task force. Colleges nationwide have been experiencing a rise in sexual assault against students and as a result, many have undergone some policy changes.
California recently passed a law that outlines what qualifies as consent. No longer will silence mean “yes”.
“Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent … nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time,” the law states.
VSU has had measures in place since 1972 to deal with issues of discrimination based on sex. The Title IX amendment protects victims of sexual discrimination and assault. Dr. Maggie Viverette, director of the office of social equity, is the Title IX coordinator and is responsible for monitoring and investigating complaints from VSU students and faculty.
“VSU has very closely followed the recommended guidelines provided to all colleges and universities by the federal government in its efforts to provide a safe environment for all students, faculty and staff,” Viverette said.
What many don’t realize is that there is an entire system of university employees that coordinate with one another to create a reliable resource. In addition, victims of sexual assault don’t have to solely report to VSU for help. One of the main reasons why so many sexual assault cases have gone unreported is because the victim isn’t properly informed about the many different avenues available to them after an attack.
“Victims of sexual misconduct have the right to report incidents to multiple agencies,” Viverette said. “A victim has the right to notify the university, the University Police Department, the Valdosta City Police Department and the Lowndes County Police Department that an incident of sexual violence has occurred.”
As to not be left behind, VSU President William McKinney created the president’s special committee on the prevention of sexual assault. The committee has been tasked with the job of creating a more positive, safe, and supportive campus environment. “Prevention” is the key word here. VSU wants to shift some of its focus to ensuring incidents don’t occur instead of dealing with the aftermath.
“There will be sexual assault awareness training for students scheduled for Oct. 23 and Nov. 10,” Viverette said.
This training will inform students on what actions qualify as sexual misconduct. As well as instruction on how to stay alert in various situations that could possible result in sexual violence. In addition students will learn how to provide aid to friends in preventing assaults. Any student can attend these sessions and are strongly encouraged to do so. An announcement clarifying times and locations for the training sessions will be made within the coming weeks.