B.SASV releases progress report on University policies
Brandeis Students Against Sexual Violence released a progress report Thursday on the University’s responses to the petition they started which garnered over 2,700 signatures last spring, outlining many persisting problems in sexual assault procedures on campus.
The report showed that B.SASV believed that progress was made on several aspects of University practices but that most of the issues raised had either not been addressed adequately or at all.
B.SASV presented hard copies of the report to the offices of University President Frederick Lawrence, Senior Vice President of Students and Enrollment Andrew Flagel, Provost Lisa Lynch, Dean of Student Life Jamele Adams and a member of the Board of Trustees. Additionally, they sent a link to the online report to all of the deans of the University, wrote B.SASV member Ava Blustein ’15 in an email to the Justice.
The University responded to the initial petition in June and addressed each point B.SASV raised, outlining how they would respond to them. “We invite all members of the Brandeis community to actively engage with one another on these issues and look forward to your participation as pro-social bystanders, student leaders, and advocates for change on this important social justice issue,” read the response.
For each point raised in the group’s initial petition from April 8, the report included a letter grade ranging from A to F to indicate how well the University has since addressed it. B.SASV also outlined, for each graded point, what needs to be done further to successfully meet their expectations. “If there were some improvements made, we graded according to how many elements within each point were taken into consideration and the impact we feel the changes will have for the community,” Blustein wrote.
Flagel wrote in an email to the Justice, “There has not been time to try and understand the methodology and information behind the recent ‘grading’ effort, but work continues across campus at continuously improving our (sic.) services for survivors as well as prevention efforts.”
B.SASV gave grades of F to all points of their petition that they said had not been addressed by the University at all, according to Blustein’s email. These included hiring a permanent on-call crisis response counselor, creating an effective campus-wide campaign to combat rape culture, creating awareness of non-abusive sexual behavior, creating a list of resources as a part of party registration process and creating an accessible safety network for students.
Other elements of the petition that received low grades included sexual assault response training of University Police and engaging broader campus resources, which both received a D-; training of University staff, faculty and administrators on the roles and responsibilities of mandated reporters and responsible employees under Title IX, which received a D; the creation of a permanent rape crisis center on campus, which received a D+; and offering pro-social bystander intervention, effective consent and healthy relationship workshops at Orientation and throughout the entire school year, which received a C-/D+.
The other points of the petition addressed in the report were creating clear and accessible information on existing reporting paths, options and resources, receiving a B-, and hiring a psychologist on the Psychological Counseling Center staff who specifically specializes in sexual trauma, violence and assault for long-term counseling, receiving a B+.
“In the spirit of the social justice activism that started this university, we ask that the administration listen to what students want and what they will not stand for anymore. We ask that in addition to the good work that they have done, that they be proactive in their approach to ending sexual violence at Brandeis, not simply begrudgingly reactive,” the report concluded.
Blustein wrote in an email to the Justice, “Many of the changes made so far from the petition were done because members of B.SASV initiated meetings, made budgets and decisions, or publicly advocated for them. The university needs to take more proactive action for the community.”
In his Sept. 12 statement, Lawrence explained many initiatives the University has begun in response to the B.SASV petition, such as a reorganization of the entire student health and wellness organization, the hiring of new Psychological Counseling Center counselors with expertise in trauma and sexual assault and the beginning of bystander training programs on campus.
“The campus task force on sexual violence, including students, faculty, and staff members, is working on setting concrete priorities that incorporate constructive feedback from all areas of the university, and from external experts,” Flagel wrote in an email to the Justice.
Blustein wrote that while all of the points from their original petition should be a priority to the University, those receiving a grade of F should be addressed as soon as possible.
“If these issues are not addressed,” wrote Blustein, “B.SASV will continue actively demanding improvements in the ways we see fit and will not rest until they are made. The Office of Civil Rights is also investigating Brandeis for Title IX noncompliance and thus the school will be obligated to make changes.”