The Collegian
Friday, April 19, 2024

Sexual misconduct forum fails to draw new audience

For the second time this semester, Richmond College and Westhampton College hosted a Town Hall Forum about University of Richmond’s sexual misconduct policy, and once again student government members represented an overwhelming majority of attendees.

"I would love to have more students outside student government attend these," said Kerry Fankhauser, Title IX coordinator and Westhampton dean who explained Richmond's sexual misconduct policy at the forum.

The forum -- organized by Westhampton College Government Association and Richmond College Student Government Association, deans, Title IX coordinators and the coordinator for sexual misconduct education and advocacy -- drew minimal attendance from the Richmond student body. Of the roughly 70 students in attendance, about 60 were members of WCGA or RCSGA.

“I kind of find it almost hypocritical that students are complaining,” RCSGA senator Jose Edgington said. “They’re talking about how much sexual assault happens on campus or all the ramifications of the actions of students, yet when we have meetings like these where it's an open event where anyone can come, most of the student body remains quiet and doesn’t really come out.”

WCGA senator Julia Rivara also noted the number of non-student government members in attendance, “It’s a little concerning, but I understand that its difficult to get people to events, no matter the event."

“But I think some people kind of take the stance with this that, ‘we get it during orientation, we get it reiterated at different times, so I kind of already know these things,’” Rivara said, “I’m not really sure what else could be done to get people to go, other than doing Spiders for Spiders and alternative programs."

“We want to make this more of an issue and make sure it gets publicized,” Edgington said.

Administrators in attendance included Dean Juliette Landphair; Kerry Fankhauser, Title IX coordinator and Westhampton dean; Beth Simonds, assistant chief of police; Beth Curry, coordinator for sexual misconduct education and advocacy; and Ted Lewis, associate director of Common Ground.

Unlike the January forum, no member of the Richmond College dean’s office was in attendance. Dean Joe Boehman was out of town at a conference and Dean Dan Fabian had personal matters to attend to, Fankhauser said.

Fankhauser outlined the newest sexual misconduct policy and the changes that were implemented this August. “One of the ways that its different is that we really filled it out, so we talked a lot more about process and made that very clear,” Fankhauser said.

Among the changes implemented in the large expansion of the policy were updated language on the definitions of stalking, clarified meaning of sexual contact and compliance with federal policy changes.

One of the themes throughout was increasing student proactivity in regards to preventing and reporting sexual misconduct.

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“The majority of people in our society or on our campus are not condoning sexual violence,” Curry said. “Perpetrators repeat their behavior and do it over and over and over. It’s going to keep happening unless everyone else steps up and intervenes.”

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