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Committee passes resolution

Joseph McMahon | Thursday, December 11, 2008

The student senate unanimously passed a resolution proposing the creation of a committee to work with the Office of Student Affairs to evaluate the University’s policies concerning sexual assault, during their final meeting this semester.

The resolution was the first-ever proposed by the Senate Gender Issues Committee, student body vice president Grant Schmidt said.

Gender Issues Committee co-chair Lauren Cummings said she had been approached by multiple students who had been sexually assaulted but had negative experiences when dealing with the Office of Residence Life and Housing.

“The University’s current resources for victims and disciplinary options often do not satisfy the needs of the survivors,” according to the resolution.

Cummings said these students’ complaints prompted her and Committee co-chair Patrick Tighe to begin examining the University’s policies on sexual assault.

Tighe said he and Cummings eventually decided student government should create a committee to evaluate the policies. The committee would be composed of a wide variety of students from inside and outside of student government.

“We want it to be really productive,” Tighe said.

The resolution also calls for members of Student Affairs, the Office of Residence Life and Housing, the Committee on Sexual Assault Prevention and the Gender Relations Center to “review and evaluate the effectiveness of the University’s sexual assault, rape and sexual misconduct policy, resources for victims of sexual assault and the University’s disciplinary options available to victims of sexual assault.”

Cummings said the student response to the issue should persuade all of the groups to seriously examine the policies.

“We’re saying this is an issue we consider top priority and we’re asking them to put it on the same level,” she said.

The resolution was passed on the same day as the Stop the Violence Campaign. The vast majority of Senators wore T-shirts bearing the statistic that approximately one-in-four college women survive rape or attempted rape.

Cummings said the statistic was first uncovered by a study done in 1987 and was recently confirmed by a United States Department of Justice study done in 2006. The University also uses the statistic on its Web site.

In other Senate news:

u The Senate unanimously passed an amendment redefining the composition of the Club Coordination Council (CCC), which enumerated several positions.

CCC president John Burke said his group had evolved over the past eight years, but the Student Constitution had not been updated. This amendment, Burke said, would simply update the Constitution so that the document would accurately reflect the CCC.