SASS Demands 2008
Grievances and Demands in Regards to Sexual Assault on Campus
The Rape and Incest National Network estimates that one woman out of six is sexually assaulted in her lifetime, and that college aged women are four times more likely than others to be raped. A 2001 study by the American Association of University Women found that 8 out of 10 students experienced sexual harassment during their school lives. Although Knox is a friendly, close-knit community, it is incorrect to assume that we are somehow sheltered from the national problem of sexual violence against women.
SASS is constantly working to combat sexual violence and heal survivors. Through many events, particularly the Clothesline Project and Take Back the Night, we have come to realize that sexual violence against women is a widespread, pervasive problem on this campus. Many of the women we know, including ourselves, have been raped or harassed at Knox, many more than once, and many on a regular basis.
On one hand, Knox simply exists within a larger harassment and rape culture. But there are also specific ways that Knox compromises women’s safety or fails to support survivors. Certain campus life practices, including practices in fraternities, promote misogyny and endanger women. Irresponsible attitudes towards alcohol contribute to sexual violence. Some SASS members have had negative experiences reporting sexual assault to Campus Safety or getting adequate post-trauma counseling. Currently, many first and second-years do not even know the Grievance Panel exists, upperclassman view it as a buffer to protect Knox’s public image, and the panel members themselves seem as frustrated as we are.
Whenever non-sexual violence affects men or both sexes, such as the attacks at Virginia Tech and NIU, robberies on campus, etc., the institutional response is immediate. But when it comes to the constant problem of sexual violence against women, SASS has seen Knox make and break promises. An ad-hoc student senate committee was supposed to reform the Grievance Panel which is supposed to deal with sexual violence cases, but was dissolved. The formation of another institutional taskforce seems to be indefinitely delayed. A Men Can Stop Rape program was supposed to be instituted during orientation, but funding and administrative support fell through. The RAD self-defense program was abruptly cancelled last year, and has never since been rescheduled.
After all of these betrayals, is it any wonder that we feel as though the problem of sexual violence against women has been swept under the rug?
Perhaps the worst problem is the self-perpetuating silence. Because we lack support for victims, victims do not come forward. Because victims do not come forward, we don’t think there is a problem. Worst of all, because we think there is no problem, Knox women begin to normalize sexual assault, and especially sexual harassment and acquaintance rape. It is time for Knox to take a stand against the silent menace of sexual violence that oppresses more than half of its student body. Ending sexual violence must be an institutional priority.
Demands of the Administration from Students Against Sexism in Society
1. We demand that a full-time employee be added to the Knox College staff, working under the President’s Office, to head a Sexual Assault Prevention Program designed to address preventative, first-response and long-term factors of sexual assault. Further, we demand that all individuals likely to come into contact with sexual assault victims, including Knox counselors, Deans and the Grievance Panel ex-officio member, engage in mandatory sexual assault advocacy training conducted by this new employee. This yearly training, mandatory for the aforementioned Knox College staff, could be voluntarily available for students in the form of a .5 credit class and for other members of the Knox Community.
Additionally, this staff member would organize and oversee self-defense workshops. Knox College currently claims that it has this program, but the lack of a staff member dedicated and adequately trained to oversee and implement this program is the reason we believe it has fallen apart. We recognize that Campus Security is busy and as they clearly do not have adequate time to devote to this necessary aspect of sexual assault prevention, we would like to see it delegated elsewhere.
We recognize the challenges involved in creating this new position but we believe in the College’s ability to overcome these challenges when the safety of their students is at stake. We realize that the position can not be funded and created overnight, and we believe three (3) years to be an appropriate time frame for the creation of this position. While in the process of creating this position, we ask that the previously mentioned staff members undertake sexual assault advocacy training within a year. Currently, this training can be brought in from Moline, although a benefit of timely creation of this position is that once in place, the head of the Sexual Assault Prevention Program would provide this training for the staff, as well as sexual assault sensitivity training for members of the Grievance Panel and Campus Security.
2. We demand that Knox Campus Safety should respond quickly and competently to calls regarding sexual assault and rape. This can be achieved by requiring all officers on the Knox payroll to enroll in a course of educating them about sexual assault response as a part of newly available training. Safety measures for victims should be implemented and taken seriously, as they have not been in the past. A student reported a suspected assault to campus safety and was told by campus safety that they could not deal with the incident due to a fire alarm. This will create a safer environment for all Knox students.
3. We demand that the faculty task force that is currently evaluating the impact of Greek life on campus include sexual assault in its risk management analysis.
4. We demand a twenty-four hour response because it is important for preventing sexual assault/ harassment as well as proving aid to sexual assault survivors. Because victims of assault/ harassment do not plan on bring attacked, aid cannot be subject to a 24 hour work schedule. We cannot assume sexual assault only happens at night on weekends; that is just as dangerous as assuming rape happens in dark alleys by strangers. Hence we demand a twenty-four hour- available response for sexual assault. Knox College must support the creation of a twenty-four hotline readily available to report sexual assault on campus and the general Galesburg area. Until a local hotline is in place we demand publicity of the national RAINN hotline number as well as the hotline run by Victim Services in Macomb, IL. Knox must also provide a twenty-four hour available escort service. It is crucial for the well being, comfort, and safety of the person seeking assistance that these positions be filled by individuals with sexual assault advocacy training conducted by the new staff member.
5. We demand that we are provided with a post-trauma counselor on campus, employed by the college. We recognize that, no matter what precautions are taken, sometimes sexual assault cannot be prevented. However, in these instances, it is imperative that the victim be given the help and support s/he needs. Our counseling offices are extremely difficult to get into in a timely manner. While students can obtain emergency appointments, counselors often have to cancel existing appointments to make room. Clearly, there are not enough counselors to adequately address Knox’s needs.
We demand that a counselor be employed specifically to address emergency situations, with extensive experience in situations of sexual assault. Survivors of sexual assault on Knox’s campus, as reported to Megan Gamble in her research on the Grievance Panel, have described feelings of abandonment after their Grievance Panel session; a few have left the campus as a direct result of their negative experiences. This is unacceptable. A post-trauma counselor, specializing in sexual assault, is imperative to the well-being of the Knox student body. Furthermore, the administration should make it a priority that any person going through the Grievance Panel procedures be strongly encouraged to receive counseling and be aided in doing so.
6. We demand a more comprehensive first-year Orientation Program dealing with sexual assault and rape by fall term. We need a mandatory program that deals with these issues in a sensitive and respectful manner. The current program, Sex Signals, while it has its positive elements, does not address the serious nature of this epidemic. It humors the audience while dealing with an issue that is very traumatic and uncomfortable for its survivors. This program should be an educational program with regards to all aspects of sexual assault and rape, especially of those programs available on the Knox Campus to victims at all stages in their recovery.
7. We demand institutionalized program for men regarding date rape and sexual assault through a national non-profit organization like Men Can Stop Rape. Programs like Men Can Stop Rape, aimed at redefining masculinity to promote positive and non-violent relationships. Joe Vess, an organizer from Men Can Stop Rape came in the Fall of 2007. Vess hosted a discussion and a workshop for male leaders on campus. However the turnout was small because of a lack of Institutional Support.
In the Spring of 2007, students Kelli Refer and Sam Gagnard met with Dean Romano in the early stages of Men Can Stop Rape planning. Dean Romano promised participation in the MCSR media campaign, inclusion of this event in orientation materials and support of Inter Fraternity Council. However, these promises were not kept and publicity and promotion for this event fell exclusively on the shoulders of the students. If this type of event was promoted by The Office of Student Development, The Campus Life Office and other men’s organizations (specifically Fraternities) this program would be widely successful at preventing assault and rape.
8. We demand that RAD be reinstated on campus along with other supplementary courses in order to ensure there are preventative steps being taken to combat sexual assault. In years past RAD has been offered, but it has since been disbanded. In addition to RAD, the supplementary courses would be there to offer students the opportunity to participate in a self-defense course that would not be the time commitment that RAD entails. Courses in self-defense are very important to the empowerment of women and to the prevention of sexual assault.
Along with the reinstatement of RAD, we demand that the curriculum committee look to create this course as a class worth a half-credit to be offered by the Gender and Women's Studies Department. Professor Magali Roy-Fequire, head of the Gender and Women’s Studies Department has voiced her approval of this idea.
9. There must be a presentation about the Grievance Panel during First Year Orientation similar to the Honor Board presentation. This presentation must be mandatory. During the presentation the purpose, rules, and methods of the Grievance Board should be clarified. In addition, sample cases should be reviewed followed by discussion as occurs during the Honor Board Presentation. The Honor Boards holds students to a high level of academic responsibility and the Grievance Panel should hold students to a high level of social responsibility. This presentation in conjunction with the Sex Signals alternative forces students to hold themselves to these high standards and eliminates the excuse of ignorance regarding inappropriate behavior.
After the presentation a code of conduct should be signed by students to verify their intention to follow the rules in the same vain of the Honor Board contract. At Antioch College there is a code of conduct written and revised periodically by the students. Upon entrance into the college students must sign this social relationship contract. Knox must follow this example. A community-produced social contract is an effective way to include the school in this discussion. Furthermore, it creates an atmosphere where students feel inclined to follow the rules as they have participated in the production of the contract.
10. We demand that a Grievance Panel Taskforce be formed and meet at least once before the end of this term. SASS must be represented on this taskforce with two members, since they have knowledge of these issues. There must be more women than men on this taskforce, since this issue primarily affects women. Gender and Women’s Studies faculty must be contacted first to be faculty members on the committee.
11. Oppression is perpetuated by institutions, including educational institutions like Knox. Sexism is inextricably bound to other oppressions including racism, xenophobia, and heterosexism. Recently students of color have raised concerns about race relations on campus and racism in our student newspaper. No forum existed to discuss these issues, one had to be created. These forums must be permanent.
As such, we demand that the Intercultural Life Center host annual caucuses for women, people of color, international students, and LGBTQ students. These caucuses would help traditionally marginalized groups build solidarity and communicate our needs to the college.
12. We demand access to emergency contraception on campus. Since the effectiveness of Plan B is time sensitive it is imperative that women on campus have access to the pill within seventy-two hours of an unprotected sexual encounter. The health center must be able to accommodate the needs of women, especially with regards to sexual health.
Individual students and faculty members have attempted to provide, create and enforce many of the lacking safeties and services that should be provided by Knox College to keep its students safe. As students, we have organized “men can stop rape” workshops. We have created projects such as “And It Was Wrong”. We have comforted our friends after a dysfunctional Grievance Panel made them feel as though they were the criminals and we have consoled them after they found the counseling center not sufficiently trained in matters of sexual assault. We have shown up for Knox’s phantom self-defense workshop only to have it cancelled repeatedly without the promised re-scheduling. And now, we have finally said “Enough.”
Knox College, you have more than an obligation to keep your students safe. You have the opportunity to be a nationally renowned leader in the fight against sexual assault. Currently, Knox College is not safe. We, as a dedicated and long-standing student organization, will be here to support and work with you to improve this situation. Until the aforementioned issues have been adequately addressed, however, we will be here to speak loudly and truthfully to prospective and current students as well as alumni and parents about the state of student safety on this campus. We look forward to working with the college to make these very necessary changes on campus.
Students Against Sexism in Society
Rachael Goodman-Williams, Ellen Vessels, Kelli Refer, Ashley Atkinson, Claire Anderton, Vicky Daza, Angharad Hollingworth, Ashley Olson, Christy Dechaine, Kathryn Sweet, Alison Ehrhard
1. We demand that a full-time employee be added to the Knox College staff, working under the President's Office, to head a Sexual Assault Prevention Program designed to address preventative, first-response and long-term factors of sexual assault.
2. We demand that Knox Campus Safety respond quickly and competently to calls regarding sexual assault and rape.
3. We demand that the faculty task force that is currently evaluating the impact of Greek life on campus include sexual assault in its risk management analysis.
4. We demand a twenty-four hour response option to provide aid to sexual assault survivors.
5. We demand that we are provided with a post-trauma counselor on campus, employed by the college.
6. We demand a more comprehensive first-year Orientation Program dealing with sexual assault and rape by fall term.
7. We demand institutionalized program for men regarding date rape and sexual assault through a national non-profit organization like Men Can Stop Rape.
8. We demand that RAD be reinstated on campus along with other supplementary courses in order to ensure there are preventative steps being taken to combat sexual assault.
9. We demand that there be a presentation about the Grievance Panel during First Year Orientation similar to the Honor Board presentation.
10. We demand that a Grievance Panel Taskforce be formed and meet at least once before the end of this term.
11. We demand that Knox provide forums, in a form similar to yearly caucuses, through which marginalized groups of students can express their concerns to and needs from the administration.
12. We demand access to emergency contraception on campus.