Sexual violence on college campuses is a silent, stigmatized epidemic, and no campus is exempt. Even universities absent from the Department of Education’s list of colleges currently under investigation for violating federal laws meant to protect survivors of sexual assault – Title IX and the Clery Act – are in desperate need for improvement of their policies, prevention, and response in order to adequately support their students. We have to improve all universities and create a campus culture of consent with or without a federal investigation.
As a large public university with ten unique campuses, the University of California faces a few difficult barriers in addressing this. The UCs have relatively less funding than private schools, and the campuses vary in size, resources, and general climate. Maintaining conversations on how to best improve sexual assault prevention and response on individual campuses is vital, but changes to the entire UC will ensure that hundreds of thousands of students receive the options they need.
The UC recognized this issue by forming the UC Presidential Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault. The five working groups, which advise the Task Force, are made up of university faculty, staff, administrators, and students from across the UC. They are: Title IX, Campus Police, Student Conduct, Associate Vice Chancellor/Dean of Students, and Prevention, Advocacy, and Survivor Services.
However, a total of only six students sit on the Task Force and working groups. Although the university employees involved are concerned for students, and work to provide more resources and support for students, they are not student survivors. They do not have the same exposure to the reporting process as those who have gone through it or helped their friends go through it. The ultimate goal of this work is to better help student survivors in the future, so including student survivor input is essential.
To try to better represent the diverse needs and experiences of students across the UC, we have created a survey for anonymous student input. We are not statisticians, but we will summarize and organize the responses into reports for each of the five working groups and a cumulative report for the Task Force. We understand that we cannot speak for all students or all survivors – in fact it would be inappropriate to do so. However, in order to truly be a “national leader on this issue,” the UC must listen to student voices, and we hope this survey will allow us to include more of 233,000 undergraduate and graduate voices in this crucial conversation.
UCLA Undergraduate, 4th year
Gender Studies Major
UCLA Student Wellness Commissioner
Founder, 7000 in Solidarity: A Campaign Against Sexual Assault
Student Representative on the UC Presidential Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault
UC Berkeley Undergraduate, 3rd year
Chair, ASUC Sexual Assault Commission
Co-Chair, Greeks Against Sexual Assault
Student Representative on the Working Group working with the UC Presidential Task Force
Filed Under: Opinion