Dear President Lawrence, Senior Vice President Flagel, and Provost Goldstein,
We are a collective of students concerned about issues of sexual assault, violence, harassment, and the general safety of the Brandeis community. We are comprised of survivors, supporters of survivors, peer counselors, and leaders from various student organizations that provide direct support for survivors on our campus and engage in sexual assault prevention and awareness efforts. Most importantly, we are all individuals who care deeply for the well-being of our community.
We have been inspired by the number of students who have come forward to share their experiences of sexual assault, violence and harassment on our campus through SpeakOut! Brandeis. The overwhelming number of submissions has highlighted the urgent need for a unified and campus-wide effort to properly address this issue. Listening to the voices of survivors who have chosen to speak out is a crucial first step towards combatting this problem, but our efforts must go further.
Brandeis students have demonstrated incredible bravery by shattering the silence around sexual assault on our campus, and we must show them that it was not in vain. It is time to act. But we students cannot do it alone, and neither can the administration. This is why we are proposing a movement for coordinated action, where our student groups work in unison with our administrators, who we know care as deeply as we do about our Brandeis community.
Brandeis has a strong history of fighting injustice, and has always been committed to seeking “truth, even onto its innermost parts”. The truth is that sexual violence exists on our campus and we need to respond. We want Brandeis to live up to the core values that make us who we are, and become a forerunner in the fight to end sexual violence on college campuses across the country.
We commend the many members of the Brandeis community who are currently devoted to ensuring the safety and well-being of our students, both by providing support to those who need it and by engaging in prevention efforts. This includes the dedication of student organizations and activists, staff at the Health Center, counselors at the Psychological Counseling Center, our faculty, members of the administration, the Community Development Coordinators, Brandeis Public Safety, and hardworking individuals who are personally committed to addressing this issue. Last November, Brandeis reached a milestone when we hired Sheila McMahon for the position of Sexual Assault Services and Prevention Specialist. She has become an invaluable ally to the student body.
While there is wonderful work already being done, we believe that there are many ways in which we can, and must, continue to improve current efforts, create new initiatives, and ultimately transform our campus culture in order to protect our students and to comply with the legal obligations under Title IX. We believe that together, we can continue to build on these efforts to make our home safer. With this in mind, Brandeis Students Against Sexual Violence would like to propose the following changes to fulfill present needs within our campus:
1. Clear and accessible information on existing reporting paths, options, and resources
2. A permanent on-call crisis response counselor
3. A psychologist on the Psychological Counseling Center staff who specifically specializes in sexual trauma, violence and assault for long-term counseling
4. Proper training of university staff, faculty, and administrators on the roles and responsibilities of mandated reporters and/or responsible employees under Title IX
5. Pro-social bystander intervention, effective consent and healthy relationship workshops at Orientation and extensively offered throughout the entire school year
6. Specific sexual assault response training of Brandeis police
7. An effective campus-wide campaign to combat rape culture
8. Awareness of non-abusive sexual behavior and list of resources as part of party registration process
9. Safety networks for students
10. Engaging broader campus resources
11. A permanent rape crisis center
A detailed and thorough explanation of each of the above proposed changes can be accessed through the following link: Proposal for Changes Regarding Sexual Assault Response, Prevention, and Awareness
** Please be sure to review this document.**
As sexual violence on college campuses becomes a nation-wide concern, Brandeis has the opportunity to stand by its students and send the unyielding message that a culture of silence and denial is unacceptable within our community. Brandeis Students Against Sexual Violence would like to formally call on our administration to work with us in order to transform our campus community and make Brandeis a pioneer in this far-reaching call for action; we ask the administration to promptly start conversations with us to ensure that a unified campus-wide effort between students, staff, faculty and administrators will be implemented starting Fall 2014.
Brandeis Students Against Sexual Violence