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Group discusses sexual assault response

MARGARET HYNDS | Thursday, October 17, 2013


At Wednesday night’s Student Senate meeting, the group once more addressed the ongoing student government response to sexual assaults on campus. 

During the Oct. 9 meeting, Siegfried senator Rohan Andresen proposed the dorm in which the alleged assault occurred have a meeting to talk about how it will move forward in response to sexual assault reports.

At the end of that meeting, student body vice-president Nancy Joyce asked the senators to discuss the proposal with their respective dorms during hall council this week. Wednesday’s Senate discussion focused largely on feedback from the dialogues within the residence halls.

 “The O’Neill guys said that they felt if there were no girls present during the conversation, then the same thing would just be said over and over again … One thing we may need is some help facilitating this conversation,” O’Neill senator Kyle McCaffery said. “Maybe someone from the GRC [Gender Relations Center] could help with that.”

Senior class president Carolina Wilson agreed. 

“I think they should have some sort of questions in case things go awry, or the conversation stops,” she said.

Several senators expressed the concern that students, especially incoming freshmen, didn’t have an understanding of what rape means. 

“A view held by most guys, especially freshmen, is that rape is what you see on Law and Order. … Non-consensual sex induced by alcohol is not always seen by them as malicious rape,” Andresen said. 

McCaffery, as well as Lewis Hall senator Dotty Schleuter, said they doubted whether making a mandatory meeting for each hall was feasible. 

“The Lewis girls said that, to be successful, they thought the conversation should be had in section-sized groups,” Schleuter said. “Our hall president asked if mandatory meetings were even something that the student government could mandate.”

According to Andresen, Siegfried Hall rector Fr. John Conley said rectors would be all for making the discussion mandatory and, in his opinion, “wouldn’t be hesitant to follow through with this.”

“The discussion we had was that they would be mandatory,” Andresen said. “If it were to be optional, then the people who would go would not be the people most inclined to be involved in such an incident.” 

Although, he added, “enforcing this would be difficult.”

The discussion was then tabled for further discussion after fall break.

The Senate also welcomed a new senator from Lyons Hall, Mary Susan.

Student body president Alex Coccia and vice-president Nancy Joyce will present the student government report to the University’s Board of Trustees on Thursday.

Contact Margaret Hynds at mhynds@nd.edu