Sexual violence on college campuses is a silent, stigmatized epidemic, and no campus is exempt. Even universities absent from the U.S. Department of Education’s list of colleges currently under investigation for violating federal laws meant to protect survivors of sexual assault — Title IX and the Clery Act — are in desperate need for improvement of their policies, prevention and response in order to adequately support their students. We have to improve all universities and create a campus culture of consent with or without a federal investigation.
As a large public university with 10 unique campuses, the University of California faces a few difficult barriers in addressing this. The UC campuses have relatively less funding than private schools, and they vary in size, resources and general climate. Maintaining conversations on how to best improve sexual assault prevention and response on individual campuses is vital, but changes to the entire UC system will ensure that hundreds of thousands of students receive the options they need.
The university recognized this issue by forming the UC Presidential Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault. The five working groups, which advise the task force, are made up of university faculty, staff, administrators, and students from across the UC system. They are composed of individuals from Title IX; campus police; associate vice chancellor and deans of students; student conduct and prevention, and advocacy and survivor services departments.
But a total of only six students sit on the task force and its working groups. Although the university employees involved are concerned for students and work to provide more resources and support for students, they are not student survivors. They do not have the same exposure to the reporting process as those who have gone through it or helped their friends go through it. The ultimate goal of this work is to better help student survivors in the future, so including student survivor input is essential.
To try to better represent the diverse needs and experiences of students across the university, we have created a survey for anonymous student input. We are not statisticians, but we will summarize and organize the responses into reports for each of the five working groups and a cumulative report for the task force. We understand that we cannot speak for all students or all survivors — in fact it would be inappropriate to do so. But in order to truly be a “national leader on this issue,” this university must listen to student voices. We hope this survey will allow us to include more undergraduate and graduate voices — of which there are more than 233,000 — in this crucial conversation.
UCLA undergraduate, junior
Gender Studies major
UCLA Student Wellness Comissioner
Founder, 7000 in Solidarity: A Campaign Against Sexual Assault
Student representative on the UC Presidential Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault
UC Berkeley undergraduate, sophomore
Chair, ASUC Sexual Assault Commission
Co-chair, Greeks Against Sexual Assault
Student representative on the Prevention, Advocacy, and Survivor Services Working Group for the UC Presidential Task Force