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Why Graduate Student Senate focused on sexual misconduct this week

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This week, most of Graduate Student Senate was spent listening to a presentation with “breathtaking” data about sexual misconduct. 

Graduate Student Senate heard a lengthy presentation from Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones about Ohio University’s systems of response to sexual misconduct on its campuses at its meeting Tuesday.

Data was given that places Ohio U in the norm for rates of sexual misconduct among colleges.

A survey conducted by Ohio U’s Presidential Advisory Council for Sexual Misconduct returned numbers that Hall-Jones described as “breathtaking.” While presenting these numbers, however, Hall-Jones made sure to clarify that the data was not definitive.

“Unfortunately, we did not have the best return rate,” Hall-Jones said.

“We only had 6.9 percent response rate, so it’s not the best. We need to do better and part of why we know our response rate was so low was we know it took people a half an hour to take the survey, so next time we’re going to do it in snippets and do a little bit more sampling.”

Hall-Jones went on to say that because of the small sample size, the information gathered by the university cannot be used to represent the majority of students. She did, however, share that information with the senate, citing that the voices of the students who responded need to be heard.

The survey also did not include the medical school on campus nor the regional campuses owned by Ohio U.

Hall-Jones highlighted the fact that graduate students of color reported a higher rate of unsolicited advances or sexual comments made by faculty and staff of the university. According to her, this was the only part of the survey in which students of color had a higher reported rate than white students.

Following Hall-Jones and her fellow chairperson Sara Trower, statements were heard from several other campus institutions including the Survivor Advocacy Program and the Ohio University Police Department. The remainder of the presentation focused on what different campus organizations do to help victims of sexual assault.

“We recognize that the criminal justice system is not always friendly,” Ohio U Police Chief Andrew Powers said.

“It doesn’t always feel like a comfortable process for people, but we strive to try and reduce that discomfort as much as we can. Our detectives have all been trained in trauma-informed investigation, which is considered to be the latest, best practice for investigating sexual assaults. We are in the process of getting them into more advanced training even still.”

The presentation, including questions and answers from the senators, lasted for almost 50 minutes, 20 over the standard amount allocated for presentations of this type. Brochures were left for GSS to keep and distribute at their own discretion.

A resolution concerning The New Political was passed, with GSS voting to submit a Letter to the Editor.

GSS also passed an internal resolution regarding the reading of resolutions. They briefly discussed a response to the controversial new university free speech policy, but the meeting was adjourned due to a lack of time before a vote could be held.

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