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Here’s what Graduate Student Senate thinks about campus assaults

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Graduate Student Senate Photo by William Meyer

The meeting of the Graduate Student Senate on Tuesday night dealt heavily with rape.

Ohio University President Duane Nellis answered questions from the Graduate Student Senate on Tuesday night regarding the problem of sexual assault on campus and his plans to address it.

Nellis came to update the senate on his administration’s initiatives in regards to how they impact graduate students, but when he opened up to questions from the body, the conversation turned to sexual assault. Multiple senators asked Nellis what steps had already been taken, as well as what further measures would be taken in the future.

“We’ve talked to bar owners about being more aware of early warning signs,” Nellis said. “We’re doing a lot more training with residence and hall advisors, but really it’s on us. It’s on all of us.”

Nellis went on to say that Ohio U is not alone in dealing with campus assault problems, in reference to other universities. He also cited statistics to show that the university is improving in the area.

“One is too many. But, this year, 2018, between January of this calendar year and Sept. 27 or 28 — I can’t remember the exact ending date — we actually had one less sexual assault from this year than we did last year, and I think two from the year before,” Nellis said.

One senator asked if the current national media coverage of sexual assault might be affecting campus culture. Nellis said he believed it was helping the issue.

“I do think there’s a lot of this happening nationally, and again, people are feeling more empowered every day,” Nellis said.

Rachel Stroup, the commissioner of women’s affairs for the Graduate Student Senate, said she appreciated the responses Nellis gave.

“I think he made some excellent points. I think he talked about the fact that it’s on all of us, and I think that’s very true,” Stroup said after the senate adjourned. “I’m specifically focused on certain things that we can do, particularly in the classroom.”

After Nellis left, Stroup gave a presentation about rape culture, supporting women on campus, and upcoming events run by the Women’s and LGBT centers. During the presentation, Stroup discussed methods to fight sexual assault.

“Part of this activism can happen in your classroom as a teacher,” Stroup said.

She recommended that graduate instructors should list campus resources like the Survivor’s Advocacy Program in the syllabi for their courses and encourage students to attend events related to combating sexual assault.

“I’ve had a lot of success with this,” Stroup said. “Every small step that we can take to support a safe classroom and learning environment can help.”

The senate discussed possible future resolutions regarding sexual assault after Stroup’s presentation ended. They also swore in three new senators and passed three resolutions regarding uses for the senate’s funding.

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