SGA should help assault victims

Madelyn Schorr

SGA should do more to combat sexual assault on campus. On college campuses, one in five women is sexually assaulted and SGA should make combating this epidemic a priority to ensure that all students are safe 
on campus.

Our SGA should partner with the Women and Gender Resource Center to promote the resources the University offers to survivors and raise awareness about sexual assault on our campus. We must let survivors know their experiences matter and we are here for them through whatever form of support they may need. By making this a priority, the SGA is telling the attackers that their acts of violence will not be tolerated.

One way to do this is to allocate some of SGA’s funds to help support a student-staffed survivor advocacy program, which would train students to be certified in dealing with issues of sexual assault and give survivors a peer to talk to about their experiences. This program would give 
survivors on campus the ability to talk to a fellow student rather than someone with authority over them. Some students may feel 
uncomfortable going to a faculty or administration member because they fear they might not be taken seriously. The peer-to-peer counseling gives survivors a safe place to talk to someone their age that 
has been trained to handle the situation. There is an effective program like this at Ohio University where students apply and, if accepted, they take a four credit hour course. At the end of the course, they are able to assist survivors through the process of reporting and healing.

To create a culture on campus where rape and other acts of violence are taken seriously, the SGA can also partner with the Student Health Center and start a rape culture awareness campaign to promote wellness on campus. This fall, The University of Tennessee-Knoxville started a campaign to define consent by hanging up posters all over campus with phrases like “dinner and a movie does not mean yes,” “getting drunk and happy does not mean yes” and 
“kissing does not mean yes.”

“The posters are a visual that students look at and internalize the message,” said Hayley Brundige, news editor of The University of Tennessee’s student newspaper The Daily Beacon. “Hopefully, these posters are helping students understand what consent is.” These are just a few initiatives the SGA could start to support survivors of sexual assault on campus.

Madelyn Schorr is a junior majoring in art and anthropology. Her column runs biweekly.