Staff Editorial: Low participation mars sexual assault forum

Grinnell hosted Title IX compliance consultants Tuesday and Wednesday this week, with two forums on Tuesday devoted to preventing and responding to sexual misconduct. The consultants were impressed with Grinnell’s student involvement in the issue as well as our administration’s efforts to improve our campus policies and student safety. They provided sobering statistics about sexual assault on college campuses and helped to dispel myths surrounding the topic. The consultants were personable, engaging and very experienced. Attendance by RLCs and Student Affairs’ staff showed their commitment to supporting students and continuing the conversation about sexual assault.
However, high-level members of the College administration were missing from the audience. There was almost no advertising for the forum and informational emails were sent last minute. The forum was not so much a participatory, open discussion as it was a two hour slideshow—students were not given the opportunity to express their experiences or points of view. Although the consultants viewed any student involvement as positive, attendance was embarrassingly low from our perspective. Additionally, the audience was not representative of the Grinnell student body.
Sexual assault is not an individual issue; it’s an issue that affects our whole community. President Kington addressed the campus via email May 16, saying that “sexual assault harms people we care about. It undermines trust. It fuels hurt and anger. An attack on any one of us is an attack on all. We need to defy this deep insult by working together, with integrity, to protect our community.” As a campus, we need to voice our support for victim/survivors of sexual assault and work together to prevent occurrences of sexual assault. Sexual assault creates divisions; people take sides. Lines are drawn and fingers are pointed. It erodes our campus community and can perpetuate stereotypes.
To repair and strengthen our community, all of us need to participate in the conversation surrounding sexual assault. Show up to forums, email President Kington or the Title IX consultants or talk to SGA. Support victim/survivors you may know and work to be an active bystander in social situations. Educate yourself about sexual assault and consent in order to dispel myths or misconceptions you or others may possess. Do not demonize fellow students—one individual’s actions should not tar an entire group. We must work to bridge the gap between different social groups on campus in order to stand united on the issue of sexual assault.
The S&B wants to continue this conversation. We encourage you to write in with stories, letters, comments, or opinions. Given the sensitive nature of the topic, we will publish stories anonymously if contributed by victim/survivors or those accused.


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