This week marks a spirited campaign by the National Organization of Women chapter on campus to raise awareness of both sexual assault and the Universitys current policy toward this crime.
Though the University can be credited with providing resources and programming regarding the prevention of sexual assault, a more comprehensive infrastructure designed to assist victims after the fact should be implemented. Many sexual assaults go unreported, and measures should be taken to rectify this. Victims can be encouraged to come forward about their experiences through the recruitment of trained professionals specialized to address the fears and concerns specific to survivors and make the process of reporting assault more comfortable and efficient. Though any sexual offense should be acknowledged with sensitivity and anonymity, sexual assault, unlike sexual harassment, is a violent crime and should be addressed accordingly.
Under current University policy, instances of sexual harassment and sexual assault are funneled through the same boards and hearing committees. However, because the nature of sexual assault is exceptionally more violent and personal than sexual harassment, NOW feels specific attention should be focused on addressing the needs of these survivors of sexual violence. It is unclear whether creating a new committee will encourage more victims to come forward, nor is it certain that this is the best way to combat sexual violence on campus. However, it is clear that any step to support victims of sexual assault, as well as any step to decrease the number of incidents of the crime must be explored, and, if proven successful, implemented. NOWs proposal is one step. The Maroon hopes that this is the first of many.