Sexual assault on campus: Move forward on prevention

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: February 28 2014 | 10:42 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 4:17 am in

Sexual assault is a violent and inexcusable crime that victimizes women and men. Recently, there has been much attention given to the ongoing discussions about uptick in reporting of this crime at the University of Iowa.

UI President Sally Mason may have spoken unartfully last week. She has since both clarified her statements and apologized. Letís move forward.

We believe the university has made progress in recent years, particularly in the area of survivor support. The Rape Victim Advocacy Program (RVAP) provides 24/7 support and counseling and a network of resources have been deployed to assist survivors. These support systems seem to be working. More survivors are coming forward, which explains the number of warning emails sent to students. This is a sign of progress and a testament to the good work of RVAP and others.

The university also is taking steps on violence prevention. Students, faculty, and staff are required to take and pass an online class and the university hired a sexual misconduct response coordinator and reworked its discipline policies before it was required by law. However, additional staff are needed to coordinate violence-prevention efforts.

The University of Iowa has done exemplary work, which is as of yet insufficient to fully address the bane of sexual assault on campus. These arenít contradictory sentiments: the university and Mason should be applauded for the work thatís been done and supported in their efforts to make further improvements.

Itís going to take a whole-community approach to make progress on this issue.

Katherine Valde, Undergraduate Student Body President

Randy Nessler, Staff Council President

Erika Lawrence, Faculty Senate President

Ben Gillig, Graduate & Professional Student Body President

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