By Dr. Thomas A. Parham
On behalf of my colleagues in Student Affairs, I bring greetings to all of you in the ‘Eater Nation! To our first-year freshman and transfer students, I extend my congratulations and welcome you to UC Irvine. For our returning students, welcome back. I wish you all a very successful 2014-15 school year as you navigate the pathways to academic, research and co-curricular learning opportunities here at UCI.
If you have been attending to the national news over the past year, you may have noticed the headlines involving college campuses and their handling of sexual assault, rape, dating, domestic violence and stalking cases. Indeed, the frequency by which these issues have been exposed and discussed in the national media is alarming. Given the notion that college life should be one of the best and most intellectually stimulating experiences for all who attend, these recent headlines stand in sharp contrast to the expectations all of us should hold regarding how nurturing intellectual spaces of discovery and innovation should feel. Here at UCI, we expect college to be a safe place for everyone and in collaboration with our campus partners, we do our best to create and promote those safe spaces for students, staff, faculty and others to pursue their dreams and aspirations.
The news coverage typically provides a cursory review of the campus violence issues, but a closer look reveals that the problem is not simply related to the incidents themselves, but also how colleges and universities handle these situations when they do occur. At UC Irvine, we have created a comprehensive approach to ensure responsiveness while also providing support to victims and the accused. Our campus offers several bystander training program like “Step Up UCI!,” whose tagline is “See something, say something, do something.” Another bystander program is the “Green Dot Bystander Intervention Program,” which is specifically designed as a prevention program against sexual violence.
Much of this work requires extensive policy review and implementation along with a wide range of educational efforts. Even with sweeping policy changes, however, there is a critical aspect that is required in order to achieve our goal of an environment free of sexual violence. It requires that we, all of us, take part in both managing our own emotions and behaviors when circumstances create tension, and speaking out against sexual violence when we are witness to these acts.
Recently, Chancellor Gillman, along with AGS President Sonali Madireddi and ASUCI President Reza Zomorrodian, joined the White House and educational institutions across the country in signing the “It’s On Us” pledge against all forms of sexual violence. I urge the entire Anteater community to join the Chancellor and your student body presidents by signing the “It’s On Us” pledge as well.
Creating and maintaining a community free of sexual violence requires the ongoing commitment of everyone. I’m prepared to sign on as well; what about you? Indeed, endorsement is different than advocacy and what this issue demands is a greater degree of advocacy on behalf of all of those victimized by any form of violence. Please join me in reaffirming this commitment and becoming an advocate for social change.
Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs
Sign the Pledge at http://itsonus.org
Go to UCI’s Sexual Offense Website at http://soinfo.uci.edu/
Find out more about UCI’s Step Up Program on YouTube at http://youtu.be/_qOQ5x4tntU