Sexual assault prevention and education important topics in two-day Board of Trustees meetings

On Wednesday, Dec. 3 and Thursday, Dec. 4 in the Ford Alumni Center, the University of Oregon Board of Trustees discussed sexual assault, prevention and awareness on campus.

Robin Holmes, UO Vice President for Student Life, presented to the board about sexual assault, prevention and education updates at the university. She described many programs and tasks that the university has been working on since June in order to address the issue of sexual violence on campus.

Some of these programs include the Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team (SWAT), a student group that uses a theater-based approach for sexual violence education and presents a play called It Can’t Be Rape at every IntroDucktion session in the summer, and the Sexual Violence Prevention Education program. A program that produces web-based prevention information for students, administers the Alcohol EDU and Haven modules that every new enrolled student must take, and provides training for students, faculty and staff members.

A handout was provided that highlighted the efforts the university has made since June to address sexual assault prevention and education on campus.

Holmes told the trustees that 90 percent of sexual assault cases involve alcohol, which led to a discussion on potentially driving down alcohol consumption levels to lower sexual assault numbers, as suggested by trustee Ann Curry, according to the Register Guard.

“Just attacking it from the end of things doesn’t address the cultural permissiveness of people taking advantage of other people,” Holmes said.

On Thursday’s all-board meeting in the Ford Alumni Center, UO President Michael Schill continued the topic of sexual assault prevention and education in his president’s report to the trustees.

“This school obviously has a history in dealing with this issue,” Schill said. “It’s a national issue.”

He mentioned the establishment of a sexual assault advisory council at the university that includes faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members. Schill also noted the redesign of the UO’s sexual violence prevention website that provides sexual violence education and prevention information.

President Schill then discussed the results from two climate surveys concerning sexual violence at the university.

“The numbers show a disturbingly high rate of rape or unwanted sexual conduct on campus,” Schill said.

He continued by saying that 14.5 percent of all UO students have reported being sexually assaulted in some form, and 24.2 percent of all female undergraduate students have reported non-consensual sexual contact. 10.6 percent of those female students reported that they have been raped. Schill also said that there were low numbers of students who did the survey that believed that if they reported that someone had been sexually assaulted or raped, that the report would be taken seriously.

“That’s something that we need to improve, we all know we need to improve it,” Schill said.

He then mentioned climate surveys concerning sexual violence from other universities and said that the UO’s numbers are consistent with their numbers.

However, Schill said, “That doesn’t mean that we stop, that doesn’t mean that we pat ourselves on the back. That just means that there’s a lot of work to be done by a lot of universities, and we [UO] would rather be leaders than followers in that area.”

After Schill’s report, the meeting continued on to a state and federal affairs presentation to the board. After a lunch break, Vice President for Enrollment Management Roger Thompson gave a presentation on another key issue of the meetings, a proposed tuition guarantee program for the university. The meeting concluded after his presentation ended.

UO freshman Will Paustian, the sole student trustee, has an optimistic outlook for the board’s work toward these issues.

“I thought my first meeting as a member of the BoT [Board of Trustees] was an incredible experience that provided some wonderful conversation… such as the guaranteed tuition concept, the prevention of sexual violence, and the future image of the university as a whole,” Paustian said. “I am excited for what the future will hold.”

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Caley Eller

Caley Eller