University of Oregon’s Sexual Assault Review Panel meets for the second time

The Sexual Assault Review Panel met for the second time this Tuesday in the Lillis Business Complex at 12:30 p.m., to hear public comment regarding solutions to sexual assault on campus.

Three speakers voiced plausible solutions to the issue, ranging from gaining support of the most influential men on campus to concerns with the mandatory reporting policy.

The first speaker, John Davies, a former psychology professional at the UO center for counseling and testing, spoke about his experience working with men on campus to prevent violence – specifically violence against women.

He addressed concerns subject to past walk-a-thons held to recruit men with strong beliefs about preventing sexual assault. Davies said during this annual event no university president, nor any male coaches were ever in attendance.

Davies also discussed a common practice to hold a two-hour information session regarding sexual assault. He voiced that these sessions aren’t enough to cover all of the issues intertwined with sexual assault.

Ultimately, Davies promoted the popular idea of requiring courses for students to understand rape culture and the causes of sexual assault, as well as the means of prevention.

The second speaker was Lynn Stephen, a professor of anthropology at the university, and a director for the center of Latino and Latin American studies at the UO.

Stephen began with a personal speech regarding her struggles with sexual assault as a adolescent and what she has learned from a personal standpoint. Her solution is in alignment with Davies, and believes the change lyes in the classroom.

“My proposal is that we in part deal with revealing, understanding and educating and changing this culture through courses that are required for students. We call on our faculty to be experts in them, and we also work with graduate students who are studying these kinds of issues,” Stephen said.

The third speaker was also in attendance and spoke at the first review panel, UO professor and chair in the philosophy department Bonnie Mann.

Mann discussed that if the university is looking for more headway in this topic from faculty it should be written in their job descriptions in order to hold individuals accountable. However the mandatory reporting policy was the main focus in Mann’s speech.

“Many of us are not happy about the sort of heavy handed way it’s being interpreted,” Mann said.

Mann is concerned that the policy can push victims away from reporting personal cases because of stringent protocol addressed in the policy, leaving students feeling less support and the university’s concern with liability.

Mann pointed to studies that show the most important impact for victims is whether or not they told someone, if they were believed and if they were blamed.

“Anything that we do to discourage our students or faculty members or members of the community from having that first conversation is a disservice to victims, and it’s again that example of the university being really concerned with its liability and not concerned enough with a victims centered approach to supporting folks who have experienced sexual assault or domestic violence,” Mann said.

After the public comment portion of the meeting the board asked the audience for any further questions. Some questions addressed mandatory courses and the mandatory reporting policy further.

Former University of Oregon President Michael Gottfredson created the panel to review UO’s sexual assault policies, in the wake of allegations against three basketball players this last spring.

Mary Diets, the board chair was not in attendance of this meeting.

The meeting ran from approximately 30 minutes, and the board will meet again on October 7.

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Alexandria Cremer

Alexandria Cremer