B.SASV response points to current campus assets
The University will launch an aggressive campaign to address sexual violence on campus, according to a University email sent out to the student body Monday evening. The initiative will include efforts to change campus culture regarding sexual violence, will “work across campus to continue improving the quality and quantity of training” and will “explore the best technology solutions available to support our community in reporting and access to support and services information.” The email also contained several points of clarification about campus resources as part of a continuing effort to ensure that survivors are informed of their options.
The email came in response to the March 14 Progress Report from Brandeis Students Against Sexual Violence, a student group that advocates for sexual assault prevention and awareness.
This report is the second to be delivered by B.SASV, following the first in November of 2014. While the report acknowledged that the University has made progress in addressing the points of the 2014 report, the authors claim that it is still necessary “to drastically improve the ways in which sexual violence is handled at Brandeis,” that “there is more to be done” and that “it must be done quickly.” The new report describes improvement in — though not ideal resolution of — most areas of concern regarding sexual violence, although the assessment of the Psychological Counseling Center’s sexual trauma, violence and assault staff has dropped from a “B+” to a “D-,” as the PCC’s previous trauma specialist Kristin Huang left at the end of the last academic year, and the evaluation of the campus’s effort to combat rape culture remains an “F.”
In an emailed response to B.SASV that was provided to the Justice regarding the Progress Report, the University emphasized the seriousness of sexual violence and the “tremendous amount of work that needs to be done,” explaining that the University will continue in its efforts to develop campus resources and improve campus culture.
The Task Force for Sexual Assault Response, Services and Prevention will lead these efforts to combat sexual violence starting in 2014 and will be “charged with reviewing the university’s policies and practices regarding sexual misconduct” and “making recommendations to improve the university’s response, policies, prevention education, and training protocols,” according to the email.
The email went on to describe the “several initiatives currently underway to address sexual violence at Brandeis,” which include clarifying information on websites, posters and signage regarding how to access counseling and assistance resources; continuing to improve OL and CA trainings; translating sections 3 and 22 of Rights and Responsibilities — which deal with Sexual Misconduct and Interpersonal Violence and the Special Examiner’s Process, respectively — into Spanish, Mandarin and Korean; providing each incoming first-year student with a printed copy of Rights and Responsibilities — as well as the appended Resource Guide for Sexual Assault Survivors, a guide to counseling and assistance resources — and continuing to conduct qualitative research relative to the Provost Office’s climate survey data on race, ethnicity and international status. The email also provided a timeline clarifying how the University was addressing each issue and which administrator was responsible for each initiative.
As many of B.SASV’s concerns are similar to those raised earlier by the Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Misconduct, several of the initiatives are already nearing completion — though, as the University noted in its email to the student body, “a much larger effort is needed and will be made.”
In spite of the University’s efforts, however, B.SASV is less than satisfied with the response to the Progress report.
In an email to the Justice, B.SASV expressed that “the administration's response is appreciated” but that it continues to call on the University “to fully address the issues of university handling of sexual violence.” The initiatives described in the response to the Progress Report were insufficient, B.SASV explained, as they did not suitably address the adequacy of the resources themselves — and their existence “in a fully-funded and accessible manner” — but instead focused too much on “misinformation [that] will inhibit survivors from seeking [those] resources”.
The email from the administration was signed by Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Irving R. Epstein, Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Andrew Flagel, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Kim Godsoe and Senior Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Sheryl Sousa ’90.