Implement Safety Measures in Residence & Academic Halls to Prevent Sexual Violence at JMU
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For many JMU students, this campus feels like our home. In fact, it's the sense of community that so many students quote as having been the main reason they chose to attend this school. But what happens when the place you have come to call your second home fails you? For many students at JMU, this is the reality and burden they carry with them every day. There are students here at JMU who are survivors of sexual violence, whose experiences have been brushed under the rug, and whose voices have been silenced. Every day these students walk on this campus, and instead of feeling like students, they feel as if they have been victimized by not only the initial act but by the lack of justice that followed.
As many of you may (or may not) know, female students in on-campus residence halls have reported being preyed upon by men. Over the past several years it's repeatedly been shown that the current safety measures are not enough. Card-scanners ARE installed on the entrances of all residence halls; however, for both male JMU students and non-students alike, it is as easy as catching a door behind another student or being invited in by another student, which allows these men to prey on and violate female students in their own dorms. We must do more.
To the JMU community, this institution we put our trust in has yet to adequately respond to these repeated occurrences and to recognize and validate the experiences of survivors. JMU has directed these students to counseling, which is important; however, they have not yet addressed the structural issues. Students should not fear showering in their own residence hall due to a lack of security measures that could prevent sexual predators from watching them, photographing them, and videotaping them while they are naked and vulnerable in their own dorms. We are asking all in the JMU community (students, staff, faculty, and administration) to partner with these women so that they can ensure their safety in the housing they have undergone the burden of student debt to pay for.
We won't be silenced anymore. We know that JMU can do better. For two years I have personally been fighting to get justice for the worst experience of my life: being sexually violated in a public academic hall on campus. Enough is enough.
Working together with JMUBelievesYou, whose mission is to end sexual aggression on campus and give a voice to victims, our goal is for JMU to implement more security in dorms and other public spaces in order to make these intrusions less likely, increase likelihood for prosecution, and ultimately prevent future acts of sexual violence. There are solutions as simple as putting keypad locks/swipe access on bathroom doors, swipe access to stair cases and elevators, and security cameras at the entrances of all dorms which are precautions that are standard at other universities, such as The University of Virginia and George Mason University.
Update: We are glad to announce that the JMU administration has reached out and invited us into conversation to address these issues. This is precisely the kind of action we hoped for, and we look forward to discussing solutions with them. We hope you will continue to show your support for our talks with the administration, and continue to share this petition to help move things in a positive direction.
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