Home Politics Senate focuses on sexual assault, involving international community

Senate focuses on sexual assault, involving international community

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With the internal workings of Ohio University Student Senate ironed out, the body spent most of Wednesday’s meeting spelling out what external goals they would like to achieve this year.

Each commissioner was asked to present what their goals would be for the academic year. Although most of the goals pertained to specific events, Senate also focused on broader goals to work toward.

One major topic of the meeting was sexual assault prevention.

Women’s Affairs Commissioner Jessica Arnold said her commission would be working on creating a committee specifically focused on combating sexual assault on campus, while Residential Life Commissioner Jacob Haskins said he would work on improving the lighting on South Green. Senate also held an in-service on sexual assault prevention before the meeting. Much of the conversation stemmed from the Athena Cinema’s free screening of “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary focused on pushback survivors of sexual assault get by administrators at their colleges.

“From a personal, professional level, watching the movie … as an administrator makes you furious,”said Assistant Dean of Students Chad Barnhardt. “I can’t believe colleagues across the country have said these things, that people that have been in this situation have heard these things.”

Senate will also work to combat sexual assault through every part of the body.

“My goal [for combating sexual assault] is to see someone from every commission represent all the different corners of the university,” President Gabby Bacha said. “How we tackle sexual assault in the residence halls may look different than how we do it off-campus.”

Another major point brought up was cultural competency classes.

Commissioners from the Academic Affairs Commission, the Black Affairs Commission and the Minority Affairs Commission said they will work with the administration and minority community to create a class for all students to take. The campaign for the classes was originally started by community activists, most notably the student organization now called BLAC.

Senate also discussed getting the international community at OU involved and feeling welcome. Bacha, Vice President Jared Ohnsman and International Affairs Commissioner Nawaf Abolola said they met with the International Student Union after the ISIS threat on OU and were “put on the spot” for getting international students involved.

“Believe it or not, we’ve been put on the spot three times already. [The international community] referred to us multiple times that we need to be on top of that issue,” Abolola said. “We need to raise awareness and close the gap. This is exactly why [the International Affairs] commission exists: to bring the international community to Senate and the other way around.”

Earlier in the meeting, Mike Kowalski was promoted in the Governmental Affairs commission from vice-commissioner to commissioner after the lead position was left vacant for the first five weeks of the semester. Zach Woods took over Jacob Haskins’ spot as West Green senator after Haskins was moved to Residence Life commissioner. Tyler Daniels took over the Senator-at-Large seat vacated by Kowalski.

Bacha also alluded to a future Senate discussion in October that would focus on referendums and electing student trustee candidates.

None of the positions vacated by the six Senate members last week were filled. Senate is still accepting applications.

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