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Group voices concern over e-mail wording

Justin Tardiff | Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Board of Governance members met Monday night to discuss recent e-mails sent by campus security regarding reported sexual assault by a Saint Mary’s student while on Notre Dame’s campus.

Women’s Issues commissioner Katie Kelly said she was concerned that the wording of the e-mail that included warnings about assault prevention such as “never leave your beverage and then pick it back up, never accept a beverage from someone” could imply that rape is partly the victim’s fault.

“I think it is great and important to know about [sexual assault incidents on campus], but it is how they put it out there that is the problem,” Kelly said. “They should mention the counseling center, S.O.S. and the Women’s Center as places where victims can get help.”

Kelly’s pursuit for a change in the e-mails intensified after she read an anonymous posting on the faculty-staff discussion forum on the College’s “Virtual Village” blog that argued against the warnings potentially insinuating the fault of the victim.

Kelly said the anonymous posting was written in a way that warned students to be cautious of their clothing, body language and drinking habits while out.

“I was just particularly disturbed that the posting was found in the faculty-staff section, however, that does not necessarily mean the posting was done by a staff member,” she said.

Missions commissioner Jenny Robbins was also disturbed by the posting and the wording of the warnings in the e-mails sent out by College security.

“It seems they are saying the problem is if you wear a short skirt, you might get raped,” she said. “It is just the implication that you have control over the situation.”

Kelly welcomed suggestions from the Board on how to resolve this issue.

Residence Hall Commissioner Jackie Wright suggested that she could speak with security about adding information about victim’s counseling to the e-mails.

Kelly said that measure would be a beneficial change in the overall tone of the e-mails. To promote awareness for change, she encouraged the board to attend the Campus Alliance for Rape Elimination in the sexual assault victim vigil at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday in front of the student center.