Letters to the Editor

Our Reader: Syracuse University student challenges university to do more to reduce sexual assault

Sophomore year was the first time a friend told me that she had been sexually assaulted on campus. I wish I could say that was the last time.  In last year’s campus climate assessment, 12 percent of student respondents reported experiencing unwanted sexual contact. If you consider trends across campuses in the United States, this is a lowball estimate.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has nice principles of effective prevention programs. One of those is sufficient dosage, the idea that you need to provide prevention programming multiple times in order for the message to sink in. We don’t do this at Syracuse. There’s a one-time program when you first arrive on campus and that’s it.

The Don’t Cancel That Class program encourages professors to bring in the Office of Health Promotion violence prevention programming during class periods that they would otherwise have to cancel. If you’re a professor who knows at least 48 hours in advance that you’ll have to cancel a class, you can use that valuable time to have the OHP Peer Educator team give a consent education booster shot to your class. Programming is also available that advocates for healthy use of alcohol, stress reduction and many other health and wellness topics.

Twenty-seven professors have already said they would be willing to bring in OHP programming instead of canceling class.

Still we need more support from the campus community to make this program work. If you are a professor, consider bringing signing up to bring in a program next time you’re away at a conference. If you’re a student, let you professors know that you want to live on a campus free of sexual violence and that you want your professors to take steps to do that.

On March 29, hundreds of students, staff, faculty and community members gathered in Hendricks Chapel for Take Back The Night. This group affirmed the desire to create a community free from gender-based violence, a place where all people are safe to walk at night and a place where we work against the social forces that compel men to think of women as objects and sex as conquest. Take Back the Night was a call to action for the SU community, and one way to fulfill that call is to ask your professors to make good use of class time by bringing in the Office of Health Promotion violence prevention programming.

Seth Quam

Class of 2017

Citizenship and Civic Engagement and Geography

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