Respond to the Requests of SMC Students Concerning Sexual Assault on College Campuses

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Respond to the Requests of SMC Students Concerning Sexual Assault on College Campuses

This petition had 644 supporters

Jessica Lopez started this petition to President Carol Ann Mooney

As alumnae of Saint Mary’s College, we wish to express our interest in current campus affairs specifically concerning the CNN documentary The Hunting Ground. It is clear that the student population is responding to the content and message of this documentary. As a community of women, Saint Mary’s College students recognize the importance of addressing this social issue and are especially receptive to the message based on the role Saint Mary’s played in this film. We present this letter to you as a fulfillment of our graduation pledge to remain committed to the mission of Saint Mary’s College and dedicated to safety of this community of women.

The Hunting Ground challenges its viewers to pressure academic institutions to speak candidly about their procedures for addressing sexual assault reports on campus. It features the experience of victims, and stresses the importance of responding to their needs. It calls on the public to advocate on behalf of these men and women who bravely made their story known. It is not enough for us, the audience, to sit idly by and expect change to come. Saint Mary’s has taught us to do more. The call to justice is ringing clear, and we as Belles hear its tune. Saint Mary's College has the power to lead this movement of change on college campuses so long as its administrative leaders listen to the voices of its student body. 

As the first lay alumna president of Saint Mary's College, you have the power to make a truly significant impact on the history of our college. You can encourage your fellow administrative officials to make sexual assault a priority issue to address. In support of its students, your position can be redefined from one of spectator to that of participant. For now, the alumnae and students will adopt the role of participant and will advocate for the amelioration of current policies. We wish to reiterate the recommendations of the current students detailed below:

· Students understand the issue of sexual assault on the Saint Mary’s College (SMC), Notre Dame (ND), and Holy Cross College (HCC) campuses to be an issue that directly affects them. As such, students recommend the SMC community, comprised of students, faculty, and staff, begin to engage in continual discussion that promotes free and open dialogue.

· Due to the widespread occurrence of underreported incidences of sexual assault on campuses, students recommend that SMC establish a non-biased, secure, independent third party to investigate all reports of sexual misconduct. Special consideration should be given to reducing the risk for conflicts of interest.

· Because students have not been a part of the decision-making process for how investigation policies and procedures are made, students recommend that SMC seek the input of students in moving forward with addressing sexual assault.

· Due to the lack of transparency regarding sexual assault between SMC, ND, and HCC, students recommend that SMC administration opens lines of communication about sexual assaults between the campuses.

· Students express a general sense of confusion and anxiety regarding how to report a sexual assault. It is recommended that there be a clarification of this process with easily accessible information, such as Belle Mobile, the freshman SPLL Sophia class, etc.

· It is a conflict of interest for SMC’s Title IX coordinator to also be SMC’s legal counsel. It is in the best interest of students for the Title IX coordinator to be an unbiased, independent party whose intentions are in the best interest of students, rather than the legal interests and reputation of the school. We recommend that the process of choosing a Title IX coordinator heavily considers reducing the risk for conflicts of interest.

· It is recommended that SMC begin addressing the prevalence of sexual discrimination on its own campus in addition to addressing the issue of sexual assault among the tri-campus community.

· While SMC does not have jurisdiction at ND or HCC, students recommend that SMC take greater steps in advocating for the safety and well being of all of its students.

· Reporting a sexual assault too often requires the survivor to fight against the survivor’s institution. Because of this, students recommend that SMC be a leader in ensuring the reporting process is effective in achieving justice, and the leaders of said process be diligent and empathetic in their treatment of those reporting.

· Students have expressed concern regarding retaliation against student, faculty, and staff advocates of sexual assault survivors. It is recommended that SMC re-evaluate its current policies to ensure that the reporting process is not hostile towards those reporting or advocating. This also includes faculty and staff who are made to feel their positions are at risk.

· It is recommended that SMC’s stance on sexual assault is readjusted to center on the survivor’s perspective.

· Students are required to undergo training on sexual assault. It is recommended faculty and staff be required to do the same. This should not be limited to Title IX training.

· The Title IX faculty and staff coordinators do not have enough training or knowledge, as shown by the incorrect information being given to students. It is recommended that SMC have an outside, qualified party conduct these training sessions.

· SMC has failed to hold ND publically responsible for its inadequate responses to sexual assault. Students recommend SMC demand a public and appropriate response and apology from ND.

· The primary, fundamental worth of human dignity must trump the privilege of being a student. Student athletes should be held to the same standard as any other student. It is recommended that all three schools adhere to this.

We appreciate your understanding for our concern and hope that the administrative offices will follow the appropriate course of action to respond to the suggestions listed above. The alumnae of Saint Mary's College promise to remain attentive to the requests of its students and involved with their efforts to promote change during this important time.

Petition Closed

This petition had 644 supporters